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. <>.

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