Etec512: Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction
Etec512 is a critical element in the Ed-tech algorithm that developed my understanding of what is sometimes termed in our context as the “black box of learning” (i.e., how does learning actually happen?). Throughout two impactful artifacts (presented in the implementation section) I was able to:
Ertmer and Newby (2013) argued vigorously for the knowledge of all core learning theories. They emphasized Snelbecker (1983) claims in where practitioners cannot afford the luxury to dismiss any of the learning theories that may have practical relevance .They went on to assert that learning theories are critical sources of instructional methods, tactics, and procedures and stated that:
In this artifact, I created a concept map for a personal learning theory representing the linkages and relationships between the key learning theories covered throughout the Etec512 course. I considered Ertmer and Newby’s (2013) viewpoint, where there is no one best theory. I sketched the theories in chronicle order (left to right) to demonstrate how the old views influenced the new ones. Moreover, for each theory, I situated its main features, the locus of learning, types of learning that best fit, the role of educators and learners, applications, and limitations. These aspects helped to stage out the remarkable similarities and differences between theories. In subsequent courses, I have often turned to this map; it serves as a reminder that educational practices need to be informed by theory and research.
The constructivist perspective inspired me along the entire journey. This has been reflected in most courses and many other artifacts. However, this artifact specifically was my first time to consider the principles of learning theories as a foundation for planning and conducting instructional activities in order to achieve some required learning outcomes. Along with my group, I used the constructivist lens to create an interactive presentation focusing on four essential areas of the theory:
As you will observe when you visit the artifact, our design sets the participants at the center of the learning experience, where they bring their own personalized and customized knowledge and skills to the conference. We developed activities that encourage collaborative learning and dialogue; this echoes Vygotsky’s emphasis on learning as a social activity (Fosnot, 2005). We selected appropriate tools supporting these activities, such as Padlet walls, stories, and Flipgrid.
As a technologist, I understand that many of us may have little patience or tolerance for learning practices, theories, and principles, not of our own professional discipline. And perhaps, It is a reasonable question: Why this emphasis on research and theory? Let’s think about building a home. First, you need to map out where the house will sit on the lot; then, you will lay the foundation upon which the structure, walls, and roof will sit. Similarly, when we are tasked with translating principles of learning and instruction into tools and aids for enhancing the teaching and learning processes, we need the foundational knowledge upon which the entire system sits. This means we need to start by “mapping” or “linking” applications with research to understand the potential sources for our solutions and requirements. Then we need to grasp the theoretical positions of educational practitioners and their explanations of how learning occurs.
In closing, I would like to suggest that the ultimate goal of linking technology to learning theories is approaching design as a complex translation process which may enable more successful solutions. We can start by knowing the fundamental principles of learning theories and then extend to the specifics as needed (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). As well stated in their work (p.45):
I hope that the resources offered here encourage rethinking the design process and making more informed decisions on educational design and techniques based on learning theories.