Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"In the Know"

The learning theory Connectivism focuses on the changes in our learning environment. Learners of today have access to more new information than ever before. George Siemens advises that this access is due to the increase in information, diversity of opinions, availability of information networks (social, cultural, technological, etc.), complex systems and rapidly changing learning environments (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

I use my learning networks to access up to date information at multiple points throughout my day. I may use my coworkers, who have an abundant amount of knowledge about my company or learning development, or I may reach out to a website tool to provide me more information. I take in learning magazines, read books, receive learning related emails, check on blogs and read updates from my favorite theorists. Instead of just one way of learning, network connects me to each source of information to keep me “in the know.”

The best way, I have found, for me to access my learning networks, is with my cell phone. I own a Smart Phone, specifically the Droid 2. At any point throughout my day I can check an email, visit Facebook, post something on my blog, read other blogs and even connect professionally on LinkedIn. All of these technological networks are spots of information that I can learn something from. What I learn on LinkedIn (an abundant information source about my peers, professional groups I have joined, and a news site) may change how I interact later in a course. It may provide me with information on a training to attend nearby or an article to read. When I have questions, I can post a question for my connections on LinkedIn to answer. For example, I read an interesting article about change in organizations. I posted that article to a group in LinkedIn to see what others thought about how leader’s can work to make change occur in an organization (Deutschman, 2005).

As you may have noticed, I believe that Connectivism is an outstanding theory to showcase the changes in learning today. While I love the library, it’s not the only place to do research anymore. As a designer of training, I need to incorporate connections to networks into my training. The more I can assist my students in creating and maintaining their connections to sources of information, the more they will succeed in learning.

Also, see my previous post for a mind map of my learning networks.


Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Deutschman, A. (2005, May 1). Change or Die. Fast Company. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/94/open_change-or-die.html

Monday, July 25, 2011


Connectivism is a learning theory about the inter-connectivity of learning with social, cultural, systems and technological connections. Above is a mind map of the networks that I have constructed to obtain knowledge. According to Siemens, learning today is a mixture of technology, complex systems, social environments, culture and context (accessed 2011).

If you need to scroll in on the mind map to visualize the nodes, please do. You can manipulate the picture by moving it around or scrolling by clicking the magnifying glass.

This Mind Map was created using Spinscape.

Spinscape. (Accessed 2010). [Mind Map Creation] Developed by BOSSdev. Retrieved from http://www.spinscape.com/app/

Siemens, G. (Accessed 2011). Connectivism. [Video Program]. Walden University Resources.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Memory Activated!

This weekend, while researching the brain and learning, I came across the website for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See http://www.pnas.org/. This is a weekly collection of articles, reports and commentaries on social, physical and biological sciences. In this week’s collection, I found an article regarding memory. Manning, Polyn, Baltuch, Litt &Kahana studied the electrical signals recorded from the human brain during a free recall exercise. The individuals participating in the experiment free recalled the lists verbally following a brief delay of time. The research supported past scholarly articles that detailed when recalling information, individuals tend to remember that event also features of events surrounding it. Manning et. al were able to measure the neural signatures of the memories of the original word in the list, and then similar patterns in the brain were recorded during the recall of neighboring list items. These findings show that when an individual recalls a past event, the patterns from the memory are carried over to the memory of other related events (Manning, Polyn, Baltuch, Litt & Kahana, 2011).

This article interests me as an instructional designer because it reminds me of the importance of organizing information for learners. Ormond et. al advise that organization of knowledge occurs when an individual breaks information into parts and divides that information into sections that are related. Organizing information can encourage effective retrieval by linking relevant information. When the individual needs to retrieve information, organization makes the location of the information easier to access. This process will help spread the memory activation process throughout information networks (Ormond, Schunk & Gredler, 2009).

While doing more research on memories, I ran across a Live Science article on the findings of a study on emotionally charged memories. The article provided an overview of a study on the link between a sense and a memory. The study suggests that a sense may help activate memories in the future (Rettner, 2010). I found the study on the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) website. The authors researched relating sensed information to memories in rats. The study determined that memories of an emotional situation are associated with various senses (visual, auditory and sense of smell). The study reviewed the storage of information for the rats (Sacco & Sacchetti, 2010) . The research needs to be applied to human brains. However, there are some implications that can be made in instructional design. Using emotional stories could help learners tie the emotion to a memory of information learned. I think that explaining new knowledge and linking it with an emotional example would help students remember the information later.


Manning, J. R, Polyn, S. M, Baltuch, G. H, Litt, B., Kahana, M. J. (2011, July 7). Oscillatory patterns in temporal lobe reveal context reinstatement during memory search. PNAS 2011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015174108.  Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/07/06/1015174108.abstract?sid=a8eb5208-0cea-424d-925f-6012622e32ac.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson

Rettner, R. (2010, August 5). Brain's Link Between Sounds, Smells and Memory Revealed. Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/8426-brain-link-sounds-smells-memory-revealed.html.

Sacco, T & Sacchetti, B. Rose of Secondary Sensory Cortices in Emotional Memory Storage and Retrieval in Rats. Science 6 August 2010. Vol. 329 no. 5992 pp. 649-656 DOI: 10.1126/science.1183165. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/content/329/5992/649

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blogging about blogs

Recently I researched three education related blogs to assist me in developing my new blog. The three blogs I researched were:


The first blog I reviewed was IDEAS: Instructional Design for Elearning ApproacheS, by Ferdinand Krauss, an instructional Designer at the University of Toronto. The author does a good job of blogging his opinions on Instructional Design issues, ideas and techniques. I admire that he shares many of the presentations he gives at various conferences and meetings. This is useful to instructional designers to learn new information about the field and see examples of the structure and design of professional presentations. Ferdinand also provides resources and points out engaging articles. I will use this site to learn  more about industrial issues and learn from his presentations.


The Rapid E-Learning Blog is hosted by Tom Kuhlmann with the Articulate Company. This was one of the first instructional design blogs I started reading when I started in this industry. Tom’s posts are insightful tips, tricks and resources for individuals designing e-learning. Lately, he has expanded to information on mobile learning. I appreciate the fact that he does not always push Articulate programs. Instead, he offers his opinion on programs that fit the needs of a situation (including programs from Articulate, Microsoft, Adobe, etc.). My favorite blog posts are the free templates (usually PowerPoint) that Tom provides. I use this blog daily as a resource when I am developing online training content. The author provides fantastic tips to newcomers to the field of Instructional Design. The blog also contains information that will continue to help me develop my understanding of e-learning. He is very up to date on innovative technologies and new resources in the industry.


The final blog that I reviewed is the ASTD blog written for workplace instructional designers and trainers. These blogs are written by various ASTD employees and (according to the authors) are representative of their own opinions and research (not the company’s stance on the information). I chose this blog because of my current membership in ASTD and because of the professional caliber of those involved with the group. ASTD’s blog features articles on workplace training related news, free webinars or panel discussions that may be of interest to workplace instructional designers, ways that organizations are measuring training, current industry statistics and more. There were less “how to” articles than in the other blogs, and more posts about training related news. However, I still believe this will help me connect to the industry and learn about current topics and trends in Instructional Design.

I enjoyed researching these blogs due to the well-written material and abundance of information available. I am excited to become an educational blogger and hope that my posts will be an informative and interesting to read as these three I have found.


4th of July themed learning

This morning at work I recieved an email with a link to this great post:

I wanted to share this link. I love how the author, Ethan Edwards, keeps the spirit of the holiday by quoting our nation's historical thinker's thoughts on learning. He also discusses that just because workplace learning will be attended by "adults" and "professionals" that does not give e-learning designers license to be boring! Use problem solving questions, games, interesting design, and other challenging activities to have the learners apply their new knowledge.

As John Adams said, "Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order." Even adults needs fun learning activities to help ingrain training. Wonderful thoughts to keep instructional design innovative and interesting!
Have a wonderful 4th of July! Happy Independence day for our nation (and our training!)


Edwards, E. (2011, June 30). Declare your independence from boring e-learning. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://info.alleninteractions.com/bid/66612/Declare-your-Independence-from-Boring-e-Learning