Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ask me again...What Kind of Learner Am I?

Donna Stone
What I’ve Learned……………….

As I reread my discussion entry from the first week aptly named What Kind of Learner am I?  I began to see the learner I have become.  One of my first blog entries had the saying, “You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know.,” and I am proof of that.  So, what have I’ve learned…let me count the ways!
Firstly, I have learned that I am physically (or would that be mentally) incapable of writing anything between 300-600 words.  I alluded to my grocery shopping habits in one of my post, as it takes me an hour and half to shop because I talk to myself the entire time; walking, filling my cart, and processing aloud as I travel through the isles.  Maybe, some of that time could be shaved off if I were capable of writing a short grocery list, but I fear that I am no more able to do that than to wrap up this entry in the allotted 300-600 words.   So bear with me for just another week.
In my first assignment I wrote that without a question I was a tactile learner.  So sure of myself that when a classmate wrote in response to my discussion piece that I may change my mind as I learned more about the learning theories and styles, I was actually insulted.
Now I have a better understand of the definition of learning style and see it as a way a learner focuses on, processes, and internalizes information.  A person’s learning style affects how he/she will then, retain, retrieve, and use learned information. So now let me rephrase my answer to the question, “What Kind of Learner Are You?” Well just because I prefer to write, read, and write again I am not truly or should I say only a tactile learner. Tactile learners learn best through their sense of touch, such as using their hands and fingers. They learn best by writing, drawing, taking notes, using hands-on manipulatives, and involving their emotions and feelings while learning ("Keys learning," 1997).   I am missing some key characteristics of a tactile learner I am not a hands-on learner, I don’t need to touch to learn. I am not adventurous or have difficulty sitting my long periods of time.  I daydream about sitting for long periods of time, and it is not my learning style but my hectic life that prevents that from happening.    My writing and reading come from a more cerebral place.  Howard Gardner viewed intelligence as 'the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting' (Gardner & Hatch, 1989 as cited by: Smith, 2002). Two of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences seem to better reflect how I connect with, internalize, and use information:
Linguistic intelligence is the capacity to use language, your native language, and perhaps other languages, to express what's on your mind and to understand other people. Poets really specialize in linguistic intelligence, but any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or a person for whom language is an important stock in trade highlights linguistic intelligence.
Intrapersonal intelligence refers to having an understanding of yourself, of knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves because those people tend not to screw up. They tend to know what they can do. They tend to know what they can't do. And they tend to know where to go if they need help (Checkly, 1997).
SO may wonder if I find myself to be a person with a propensity towards intrapersonal intelligence because I start off each morning with a quiet period of reflection or if it is because the author referred to people with this type of intelligence as tending not to screw up.  Now, really what could I say to that?

A person's intelligence, traditionally speaking, is contained in his or her general intellect - in other words, how each and every one of us comprehend, examine, and respond to outside stimuli, whether it be to solve a math problem correctly or to anticipate an opponent's next move in a game of tennis. Our intelligence, therefore, is our singular, collective ability to act and react in an ever-changing world (Carvin, 2004).  My ability to act and react to a learning situation has grown leaps and bounds during this course.  Where in the first discussion essay I mention YouTube as a means for gathering information in my attempt (maybe not so successfully) at humor, I can now say through this course and our ability to gather, connect to, and internalize information in ways that met our personal learning style, that YouTube and many other facets of research truly enhanced my learning experience.  Through this course I watched a plethora of videos, read a near billion words (possible exaggeration, but I am not sure) in text, and wrote nearly as many. My blog and our discussion group entries gave me an outlet for my learning through the written word.  The ability to write what I learned helped me to internalize and retain so much information.   The freedom to explore helped me to connect in depth with each learning theory we researched.  In this way technology enhanced my learning experience, but did nothing for my inability to say what needs to be said in a short and concise manner.  I am stopping now at just shy of 1,000 words.

Keys learning. (1997). Retrieved from
Carvin, Andy. (2004, January 22). Exploring technology and school reform. Retrieved from
Smith, MK. (2002). Howard Gardner and multiple. The encyclopedia of informal education,. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from
Checkly, K. (1997). The First Seven. . . and the Eighth: A Conversation. Association for supervision and curriculum development. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I am a different learner than I was in grade school, high school, and even as a college student in my twenties.  I am a different person.  My life experiences have shaped the person I have become.  The ‘wisdom’ of being a middle-aged woman, wife, mother, and teacher, along with this digital era of learning, has evolved my learning, aptitude, and successes.  My quest for knowledge is stronger now than ever before and my ability to connect to the people, places, and resurces that I need to find the information I seek is literally at my fingertips. 
The old adage ‘If I knew then, what I know now’ comes to mind when I think about how my life would have been different if we had this type of technology when I was in high school.  What would I have become? What will I now become?
 This digital age of learning was meant for me.  My network of learning now encompasses the entire globe.  Thanks to the internet I can attend a webinar with people from all over the world, take a class with people from differing backgrounds and experiences, and watch videos on how to do just about anything.   Using my webcam I can read a book to a class across the country and can talk with teachers in the next room, state, or on another continent.  A simple Google search could produce enough text to keep me reading on any given subject for hours, days or more.  I email, I blog, I Skype.  I belong to an internet club that connects me to thousands of years of teaching experience.  I read, I try, and I share.  I create webpages for fun.  The world is at my fingertips and I am in touch with it everyday. I benefit from living in this digital era every day.
My new learning perspective as a result of and in addition to the digital world we live in,  helps me to think of the design of adult learning experiences in a different light.  New ideas about adult learning, at least for any given amount of time, appear, are evaluated, revered and/or are attacked; sometimes just until the next idea surfaces.  In Tara Fenwick’s, and Mark Tennant’s Understanding Adult Learners, they assert that there is no one theory of learning that is better than another.  Adult learners come from such diverse experiences and background no one learning theory fits all.  
One theory of learning to consider is Connectivism as it is seen as the learning theory for the digital age.   Learning is not a mental process occurring in a vacuum (Foley,2004).  The influences of living alter learning experiences.  Adult learners these days learn in a world that is technology-enabled where knowing where to find the information needed to meet an educational quest is as important as the information itself.  Each person’s knowledge network holds learning possibilities.  A person learns by connecting to the knowledge of an existing network.  Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. (Seimens)
The overall factors that influence learning include motivation, aptitude, willingness, the curriculum, and emotional/physical constraints.  In the view on Connectivism it is a learner’s prior knowledge and experiences that influence learning within a network.  In one of his videos on Connectivism, Stephen Downes talks about how people can view knowledge (information found within the same set of connections) differently because each person comes to recognize this knowledge based on their background, experiences, and assumptions.  Personal experiences influence learning.  [K]nowledge is what is created when information is sent from one entity to another along a network. Knowledge is not a thing but rather the growth and development of these connections (Downes, 2008).  In essence knowledge is the connection of information within a network.  Downes refers to networks as something you do not build or construct but develop and grow. 
In an address to Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) George Siemens discussed how learning is transferred.  He stated that we cannot help but learn.  We are constantly learning whether good, bad, right or wrong.  We are all perpetual learners.  Learning happens best when educators provide learners with a [f]orum that fosters the formation of new information connections (and allows) for the most diverse opportunities to connect with the individuals, thinkers, and ideas that interest them (Siemens).  Learning takes place when individuals, explore, shape, and adapt connections. Transfer occurs when there is a connection to, or adding to, nodes within a network.  Nodes are connection points within a network.  Connectivism is strongly focused on the linking to knowledge sources ¼ not simply trying to explain how knowledge is formed in our own heads (Siemens, 2006).
The types of learning best explained by Connectivism are complex learning, rapid changing core, and diverse knowledge sources (Siemens, 2006). Complex learning represents the mixing of environments, languages, and interactions within a digital learning environment.  Our world is rapidly changing and via technology our networks of knowledge are stronger and abundant.   An open social learning environment is responsive to the needs of individuals, is adaptive, and encompass the prior knowledge and experiences of its learners.   It also incorporates a fluid, varied, and contextual content. 
I am a different learner, a different person than I was when I experienced learning in a traditional classroom environment.  This class suits my new needs as a student and allows me to make the connections I choose to gain the information I seek.  I enjoy that fact that I can use the internet to read, view, and connect to additional information when researching and learning about the different learning theories we has discussed.  The flexibility to do so meets and matches my learning style and has been successful in helping me to grow as a new IDT student.

Downes, Stephen, Perf. What is Connectivism. Dir. Stephen Downes." 2008, Film. <>.
 Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education. Chapter 4, “Understanding Adult Learners” by Tara Fenwick and Mark Tennant
 Seimens, George. "Connectivism a Learning Theory for Today's Learners." Connectivism Networked and Social Learning. George Siemens, 01/20/2011. Web. 1 Feb 2011. <>.
Seimens, George, Dir. George Siemens - Connectivism: Socializing Open Learning . Perf. Seimens, George. 2010, Web. 3 Feb 2011. < >. < >.

Siemens, George. "Learning Theory or Pastime of the Self-Amused?." Connectivism. (2006): 43. Print.
Downes, Stephen, Perf. What is Connectivism. Dir. Stephen Downes." 2008, Film. <>.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mental Dwellings

What is learning and how is it influenced?  Is instruction valid if it consists only of the obtainment of skills, but does not relate to how the learner values or connects to such information?  How do learners process information?  Do we teach this process or is it intrinsic?  What effect does the environment, experiences, and social interactions of the learner have on their success as learners?
The above mentioned questions are my mental dwellings for the week. Not exactly a light load, but I am not a light load kind of person.  I have been in school, as a student or a teacher, since I was four years old.  I love school. I love to learn new things. I love to talk about the things I have learned. I have taken classes on everything from cake decorating to geology, and just about everything in between.   I come from a loving family, but one that had never held higher education in much regard. My mother still refers to my first day of college as the day I ran away from home.   My initial interest in school and all things to be learned may not have come directly from the environment in which I was raised, but I do think that it came as a reaction to my environment.  Social interactions can influence learning and the motivation to learn.  Had I not had high school friends who all planned to go to college, I may not have gone.  I have never thought about what influences set me on this academic path, in as much detail, as I have recently.    
It was not until recently, and due to requirements of an online class’ discussion group, that I had to start writing and reflecting on my own education and learning styles.  It was this practice that got me thinking about how social interaction via a web-based discussion group could influence my learning, my perceptions of how I learned, and my own self evaluation of whether or not I am actually growing as a learner.  The fact that I am sitting here writing a blog entry about the learning process, problem solving, and how social interactions effects the two, would indeed lend credence to the fact that I am growing as a learner.  Good for me.    
As part of this blog assignment I was to research, read, and respond to two resources based on this week’s topics: the brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process. Because I seem to be intrigued by the discussion group concept to extending and relating to learned material, I started with a search on social interactions and how they effect learning.
The first article I found was Do your friends make you smarter?: An analysis of social strategies in online information seeking by Brynn M. Evans, Sanjay Kairamand, Peter Pirolli.  The article itself can be found within the Information Processing and Management Journal at  I liked the title so I proceeded to read the study. The purpose of the study was to document the methods and outcomes of using social resources to help with exploratory search tasks (Evans, Kairam, and Pirolli 2009).  The idea was to see how participants would react to different venues of information searches and whether social interaction, like social networking sites, would positively or negatively effect learner outcome.  I felt there was some basis to relate this study to the concept of discussion groups where information is disseminated, questions are asked, and support is given.  From reading this research article I learned your friends can make you smarter.  Of course this depends on who your friends are, and how much you value their input.  In essence, we do learn from each other.  We learn through interaction and relating to others on a specific topic.  One barrier to learning that was discussed in this article relates to Self-Efficacy, a personal belief the one can perform a task. Knowledge does not always transfer to proficient performance (Bandura 1997). In addition to Self-Efficacy, Albert Bandura (1989) writes that social interactions can effect learning because sufficing outcomes can act as a barrier to learning.  My perception of this, in reflection to what I read in the research paper and online, is if the learner finds a solution to a problem or values the information obtained via social interaction, he or she may take it at face value and stop the inquiry.  I figure that is why most post in our discussion group seems to end with a question, as to not make it impossible for the inquiry to end.  I think this research article answers some of my mental dwellings for the week by addressing how social interactions can influence learning.  I also think that it reinforces the importance for such task, as discussion groups, as a means for relating information learned and creating an environment where higher level learning can take place. 
When asked this week what problem solving techniques did I use when faced with a problem, I was able to go into to great detail how I tackle problems.  I consider myself a thinker and a planner.  I process the details of a problem, seen as the big picture, and them break apart and tackle the needed tasks to be done to solve the problem.  Am I a thinker?  Are my problems solving techniques what I say they are or just my perception of how I solve problems.  More fodder for my dwellings.  I decided to complete an online problem solving style questionnaire.  My results from problem solving style questionnaire (PSSQ) showed I was a thinker.  I use more thinking skills than any other skills to solve problems, though I scored nearly as high in intuitive and feeling skills.  What does that really prove? Nothing.   So sticking with the social interaction dwellings I mentioned earlier, I wanted to find out if problem solving techniques could be taught through social interactions.  This inquiry leads me to read a few articles on problem solving.  First I read Techniques of Problem Solving by Gray Pilgrim (2010) which stated that real learning was the ability to solve problems by thinking independently.   Through the reading I learned problem solving by means of independent thinking is separate from solving a problem independently.  He goes on to list what he considers the best problem solving techniques, including ‘break and conquer’, my personal method, and ‘brainstorming’, where groups of people work together to solve a problem.  So social interactions do play a part in problem solving skills, but can you learn problem solving skills from other people?  This led me to the article, Do We See Things Clearly? By Diane Chinn.  This article discusses the importance of obtaining the perspectives of others when problem solving.  She writes about how in 1999, NASA’s Mars Polar Orbiter burned up on impact with Mars’ atmosphere at a cost of 125 million dollars.  The group involved with this expedition did not share basic assumptions or operational definitions (Chinn, 2010) which led to a drastic error in translating measurements.  Chinn believes that interaction with others plays an important part in obtaining good problem solving skills.  She believes that sharing, participating in open discussions, and accepting constructive criticism all lead to the acquisition of better problem solving skills and more effective problem solving. 
Lesson learned.  Had I just read New Social Interaction Tools for Online Instruction by Patti Skank (2004) first, then I would quite quickly have learned that the importance of social interaction in learning has been documented repeatedly. Her article, which I will keep for later discussions, greatly details the need for online learners to participate in an environment that allows for discussion, reflection, help, and support from others throughout the learning process. 

This assignment was an exercise in finding authentic text that confirms the practices I use every day in my own classroom.  I teach in a highly social environment.  I am a Responsive Classroom teacher who believes that the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.  Though I whole-heartedly embrace this as a teaching style and for years have seen my students flourish within such an environment, I am new to it as a student hence the choice in articles to review for this assignment. 

Bandura, A. (1989) Social cognitive theory. In R.Vasta (ED.). Annals of child development six theories of child development (Vol.6, pp. 1-60) Greenwich, CT JAI Press.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Freeman: New York (212-258). , Retrieved from
Chinn, D. (2010, February 18). Do we see problems clearly? Retrieved from
Evans, B. M., Kairam, S., Pirolli, P., (2010). Do your friends make you smarter?: An Analysis of social strategies in online information seeking. Information Processing and Management, 46, 679-692. doi:10.1016/j.ipm.2009.12.001
Pilgrim, G. (2010, March 6). Techniques of Problem Solving. Retrieved from
Shank, P. (2004, December 28). New Social Interaction Tools for Online Instruction. Learning Peaks, LLC, Retrieved from

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Exploring Instructional Design Blogs

Donna Stone
Week One Assignment:
Application/Blog Entry
We don’t know what we don’t know………What Everyone Ought to Know About Instructional Design

The first thing I did when I was looking through Instructional Design Blogs was to take a look at the date of the last entry as I did not want to ‘waste’ my time looking at information that was not current.  This particular blog has not been updated since July 2008 so I should have passed over it immediately.  For whatever reason, I did not pass it over, and decided to read the blog and watch the video.  It was a fantastic demonstration about the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know as the author suggests.  The purpose of Instructional Design is guide learners through instruction with perspective and context.  Instructional Design is successful when it allows learners to focus on the right things by keeping instruction and objectives clear and obtainable.  The author writes that we are all learners and we are learning all the time.  The author, Tom, writes that Instructional design engages learners with clear and meaningful content.  Instructional design must provide information that is clear and has real meaning.  Once the learner understands what the objectives are they are more apt to have a positive learning experience. 

Visit the blog and watch the video, it will give you a whole new perspective on what learners look for when absorbing all the ‘stuff’ we throw at them through instruction.

This blog was listed under the title of Designing Impact: Top Most Viewed Posts of 2010
In this blog entry she discusses the Top 10 eLearning Elements: Going from Good to Great Design which contends that great instructional design needs to be clear and concise and have defined learning goals and measurable outcomes.  She also states that the learning goals should first be presented as a problem the learners must solve and that, that it must be something a learner will connect with emotionally and that the learner should be able to walk away from the instruction with skills they can use and share with others. 
I signed up to receive RSS feeds from this blog site.

 Education and Learning weblog
This blog is learning theory of choice is Connectivism.  This author’s contention is that through networking learners can ‘connect’ their brains to create ongoing and innovative problem solving solutions in this digital age.  The information in this blog is not as ‘heady’ as you may think and I believe will provide usable information on Connectivism for future assignments and inquiry.  I bookmarked the site but did not subscribe for RSS feeds.

I decided to explore this blog because the first line reads I am such a nerd.  Me too!  How could I not read about a fellow nerd?  This short blog entry gives a link to the Hypertext History of Instructional Design and to which is a site I like for their WayBack Machine.  Other than that, it did not have much else to offer.  It is more of a techy site with only one entry for Instructional Design.  So I move on….

This blog written by Dianne Rees is a writer and instructional designer, gives an explanation that she started this blog as a place to collect and organizing information and tech tools for instructional design.  I think that is a good idea.  I started the usual ‘clicking’ around and found one thing I have put on my new I.D. to-do list Live Binders.   It looked kind of cool and I will soon be Googling it once I finish this entry.
I did sign up to receive updates from this site.

IDEAS: Instructional Design for Elearning Approaches.  This blog seems a little too advanced for me.  I am just starting out on the path to successful Instructional Design and find a lot of what he wrote a bit over my head.  I did bookmark the page in hopes of looking back in the near future and being to connect better to his writings.  I did find a link to an Open Source learning lab that I have also added to my I.D. to-do list.  If I keep adding to my list of things I want to check out I am not going to get much done this weekend.  One good link always leads to another!

Interesting blog. Okay I have been sitting at this computer for a while now so when I see that this blog has a link called JOKES you can only guess that this was the first link I clicked.  I will gladly share one of the jokes so as to add to your mental break, like it added to mine: 
What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
Anyone can roast beef.
Okay back to work………This blog is written simply but offers a lot of information.  It does not tax the reader with long drawn up explanations, but simple offers the facts.  I think I am going to like this blog.
It has a lot of entries to explore and links to other resources are provided.  Some of the information does not seem to relate to me at this time, but as I have said before, I am so new at this that I don’t know what I don’t know.  Ha!   My first entry for today and my last have a connection in theory. 

I had a bit to tech trouble signing up for a subscription to this blog, but was able to register for its newsletter.  I will check back in a few days to see if I can subscribe.