Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Learning Style (Revisited)

Upon first consideration of my personal learning style I considered myself a hand-on visual learner. While I still hold that I learn well through these methods, I have also come to realize that, more than anything, I simply prefer to learn in this way. I enjoy learning through graphs, charts, images, etc. and by interacting with the material that I seek to learn about. I no longer believe that I necessarily learn “best” this way but that it is my preferred learning style.

I find that I use all of the learning theories in some way or another and that each may be applied more than another for any given learning scenario.  I have come to realize that there is no “one best way” in regards to learning theories but more that each theory has implications for understanding how I and others approach learning and potentially learn most effectively.  Of all of the learning theories and epistemologies that we have looked at, with the ever-present and easy access to the information superhighway, I have found myself most drawn to the ideas contained within connectivism. While not truly a learning theory, connectivism touches close to home for me in every aspect of my life. If I am in need of directions, dinner suggestions, application tutorials, or any other piece of information, great or small, it is only a voice command away. I am online virtually (pun intended) any time of day, which makes the acquisition of new information always possible. No longer are the days of scouring through the library for information and resources.

Technology is a huge part of my life. From my personal, social, educational, to vocational activities, I am constantly using technology and looking for new technologies that can enhance my life. Whether it is searching for a new recipe, accessing daily calendar activities, meeting new people, taking online classes, or designing instructional courses, technology and the internet have become central to my lifestyle.  With my new understanding of learning theories, styles, and strategies, I hope to discover ways to incorporate these understandings, not only into my own learning, but also to find ways to implement them into my vocation.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Connectivism is a new learning process that places great emphasis on the importance of networks and networking in learning and acquiring new information.  Willeke declares that “connectivism is best grasped as social learning theory rebranded for the digital age and communities of learning within that age” ( George Siemens pioneered the idea of connectivism which notes several important learning trends including:
  • “Many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime.  
  • Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks. 
  •  Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.
  • Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.
  • The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning. 
  • Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.
  • Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)” (Siemens, 2005, p.2).
Siemens’ connectivism plays a critical role in my everyday learning. Through a network of reliable resources that have been established over a period of several years, information on topics relevant to my personal and professional life is easily attained. Using the vast resources on the internet I am able to quickly and efficiently gather information that is best suited to my learning style for any particular situation. A blog on connectivism states “when faced with learning in complex environments, what we need is something more like network-directed learning – learning that is shaped, influenced, and directed by how we are connected to others. Instead of sensemaking in isolation, we rely on social, technological, and informational networks to direct our activities” (Connectivism). This statement, personally, holds true for me.  When addressing hands-on knowledge to be acquired in the graphic design field, I will typically incorporate any of a number of websites that contain either video or step by step tutorials which will walk me through the information that I am seeking. If the knowledge that I am seeking is outside of my comfort level, through my learning connections I am able to network with others much more knowledgeable than myself to acquire more information in our rapidly changing world.

Although Siemens’ idea of connectivism is not technically considered to be a learning theory along with the likes of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, the case for it continues to grow. “The debate on the status of Siemens’ theory of connectivism will undoubtedly continue for some time, and the ultimate outcome remains to be seen. However, one of connectivism's defining principles states that what we consider to be right today may tomorrow be considered wrong (Siemens, 2005). So then, perhaps, "tomorrow" the debate could lead to a prevailing view that connectivism is the leading learning theory of the time” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelley-Bateman, 2008).


Connectivism: Retrieved from

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved 5-31-11, from

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1). Retrieved from

Willeke, M.H. (n.d.) Connectivism: A Digital Social Learning Theory. Retrieved from

Connectivism: My MindMap

Monday, May 16, 2011

Information Processing and the Working Memory (WM)

At the core of information processing as it relates to the human learning system is the two-store memory model. While other ideas exist that attempt to explain the processes involved when individuals encounter new stimuli and how that information is encoded for future recall, I would like to take a look at the idea of working memory, its importance in human information processing, and its accepted makeup. Fenske states “the link between working-memory ability and general cognitive performance is so strong that many researchers seriously consider working-memory capacity to be the very root of fluid intelligence. (2011, p.1)

The idea of working memory dates back to the work of Miller who proposed that short-term memory or working memory can hold 7+ or -2 units of information. Around the same time, Akinson and Shiffrin (1968) developed their dual-store memory model which initially explained human information processing by breaking it up into three stages; sensory memory (SM), short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM). In an effort to more accurately define the actual processing that takes place within the human mind, Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch (1974) focused their research on the limitations of the short-term memory stage. Baddeley explains “our own work has been focused on the information processing tasks rather than the [memory] system itself” (1998, p.86).

As a result of a change from the duration-restricting term, short-term memory (STM), working memory is termed so in an effort to better explain the process that takes place when new information is encountered and to “abandon the concept of a unitary store in favour of a multicomponent system” (Baddeley, 2000, p.417). Working memory is proposed to be limited in both the amount of information that it can process at a given time, around seven pieces or chunks of information, as well as in duration if not attended to, which is proposed to be around 20 seconds. Unlike short-term memory, working memory (WM) is thought to actively relate with the long-term memory. According to Baddeley, working memory is comprised of a central executive region which acts as a regulatory function for incoming information. It serves to decide what stimuli are recognized and attended to and those that are filtered out and discarded. The central executive initially was aided only by the “phonological loop” which stores acoustic and verbal information , and the “visuospatial sketchpad”, which stores visual information.

Most recently, however, Baddeley has added a new component to the makeup of working called the episodic buffer. Due to recent technologies in medical imaging and discoveries that document how multiple brain regions are active during the working memory phase of information processing, Baddeley concluded that the working memory is vastly more complex than his initial understanding. The episodic buffer “serves as a modeling space that is separate from LTM, but which forms an important stage in long-term episodic learning” (Baddeley, 2000 p.421). It also acts to integrate stimuli from a variety of places by incorporating the phonological loop and the visuospatial sketchbook.


Baddeley, A & Hitch, G. (1998) Working Memory. Stirling, Scotland.

Baddeley, A. (2000) The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory. Trends in Cognitive Science. 4 (11): 417-423

Fenske, M.  (2011, May 5). The brain can juggle only so much. The Globe and Mail (Index-only),p. L.6.  Retrieved May 15, 2011, from CBCA Complete. (Document ID: 2337568241).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ID Sites

To the right under the “My Blog List” I have linked to a few very informative blogs on the topic of instructional design and educational leadership. These sites cover a variety of topics and have a large number of professional and informed contributors.

IDD Blog is the instructional design and development blog of DePaul University. While not the most visually appealing site on the internet, what it lacks in design, it more than makes up for with a wealth of scholarly insight. IDD Blog contains discussions from Instructional Design department members covering topics related to opinions on different web tools and programs, general teaching discussions, as well as global technology issues surrounding present day living.  I believe this site will be very useful for myself and beneficial to any educational instructor.

The eLearning Coach is a blog that touches on a wide variety of subjects; from the psychology of learning to design ideas related to online instruction. The site is visually appealing and easy to navigate. It contains discussions for choosing audio, video, and graphics programs as well as tips and tricks related to a variety of design authoring tools. There is a section dedicated solely to resources including tutorial links, stock photo sites, image editing tools and many others. I am looking forward to exploring this site further as it contains a great deal of information that will be useful as both an instructional designer and as a current online learner.

U Tech Tips’ headline is “An International Perspective on Education”. Of the blog links that I have listed, it seems to be far and away the most relevant to technological innovation and its importance in education. The site has primary headings of “21st Century Themes” which covers subject matters such as digital literacy, information media and technology skills, learning and innovation skills, and life and career skills. Another primary heading is “Core Education” which contains posts related curriculum and instruction and learning environments to name a couple. The final main category, other than one for uncategorized posts, is that of “Grade Level”. As you can probably guess, it is subdivided into elementary, middle, and high school links which each contain information relative to grade school education. U Tech Tips is very clean and navigate. In my exploration of instructional design related websites and blogs, this is one that must be checked out!