The End and a New Beginning

It’s hard to believe the semester is almost over.  Our assignment this week is to reflect on what we have learned about The Adult as a Learner.  I can honestly say that I learned a lot, and that learning has been on a deeper level than I had originally expected.

I find myself looking at training events differently.  I now see how theories I didn’t think held true for adult learners have a place in adult learning environments.  For example, I have long known that behavorism has its place with children and certainly animals, but I didn’t realize that when you want learning to become so ingrained that its response is automatic, a behaviorist approach is applicable to adult learning.

The same is true for the other learning theories addressed in this course.  I still align closest to cognitivism, but I can see how other approaches, especially constructivism, are beneficial. My strong alignment with cognitivism is largely due to its premise that learners are capable of processing information and use prior knowledge to enhance current understanding and bridge gaps.  While I find constructivist beliefs applicable in certain situations, it is best applied to knowledge that the learner has the luxury of choosing to learn, which is not always the case in on-the-job and other training environments.

I am still not “sold” on experiential learning and connectivism, but am now more open to learning more about them. My concern about experiental learning is the level of self-discovery involved.  I suspect learners benefit from a little more direction such as rubrics that allow students to understand what is required of their work.  Regarding connectivism, I certainly see the benefits of technology and digital media, but am concerned about the quality of information available, as well as the learner’s ability to discern what is important and correct. I also suspect that the rapid speed at which learners can collect vast amounts of information may have a negative impact on retention.

I also learned a lot about motivation in this course.  I believe motivation is key to successful, long-term learning.  I would read the assigned readings and think, “Yes! This is the key!”  I now intend to apply theories by Keller, Wlodkowski, and other motivation theorists to learning I create.

The most important thing I have learned in this course is to continue learning myself.  I can see how applying select components of each theory can be beneficial, especially when working with different types of learners.  Therefore, I will apply my pursuit of lifelong learning to the learning theories presented in this course.  By continuing to learn more about and apply learning theories, I will increase my knowledge so I am able to reach the highest levels Instructional Design of which I am capable.

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