Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reflection on Learning Theories and Instruction

I chose to enroll in the Instructional Design degree program with Walden University because I was promoted to a training position within my company. I liked presenting to my coworkers and thought that developing new modules for classroom instruction was interesting. I had no idea that when I started learning more about educational theories and curriculum development, that I would fall in love with Instructional Design. As I reflect on the past eight weeks of my Learning Theories and Instruction course, I realize what surprises me is how much I love learning about learning.
Over the course of this class, my knowledge of and experience with learning theories and design has grown. We have studied how the brain processes information and various learning theories that influence how we design curriculum. I was very excited to learn more about cognition and the various brain processes associated with learning. My understanding of memory and how information proceeds from experience into long term, usable memory has grown tremendously. Now, when I teach students, I love that I understand the various strategies they are using to process information (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009). I was struck by the amount of learning theories used to explain how individuals learn. While working on my bachelor’s degree in Sociology, I frequently used theories to help guide research on different topics. However, in Instructional Design we use theories to help us create the different types of curriculum used to teach our students. For example, Social Learning theories stress the importance of using contextual based, social interaction as the medium for learning (Kim, 2001). A better understanding of social learning has already helped me at work. I will be training a group of individuals in a new course starting next month, previously we were going to have them individually go through the course. However, a social environment will be more effective with the type of class and material.
I enjoyed learning more about the learning process because I now understand more about how I learn.  I see that individuals may have different learning styles (like visual, auditory or kinesthetic)  (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). I also now have several learning strategies that I can use (and teach to my students) to help me learn more effectively. For example, Dr. Jean Ormrod suggests elaboration to help remember an idea. This means I take information and do something with it mentally. For example, I could make a model or apply the information to a real-world scenario. I have already started working elaboration techniques into my personal learning style and my curriculum design (Ormrod, accessed 2011).
Another aspect of this course that was very helpful was the focus on how to use technology in the classroom. I believe that online learning is the future of education. While it will not replace all classroom education the resources, connections and innovative tools available online create a rich learning environment. For example, instructors without a lot of experience in certain areas can use social networking sites and other media resources to connect students with experts around the world. This is useful to me, as my training team has started developing a set of professional development courses. We may not have experts on things like stress management or networking, but we can connect with various resources online (Walsh, 2011).
While I enjoyed learning everything in this course, the focus of our last week resonated with me the most. Motivating students is a topic heavy on my mind. At the moment, I work for an organizational training team. We design operations training (training to teach people how to do their job) and professional development courses. Our classes on conflict management, resume creation, performance management, goal setting, professional email, effective meetings, etc. are wonderful opportunities for our coworkers to expand their professional knowledge. However, it is hard to get them to leave their work to attend training. They are not motivated to attend the course, participate or complete the class. Therefore, the deeper understanding I have of student motivation is very helpful. I hope to use the ARCS model of Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction to structure marketing and training activities to gather attendees and keep them coming back. One idea already is to create several real life scenarios and practice situations that are relevant to my student’s current positions (Kaller, 1999).
If I learned one thing from the various learning theories we studied, it is that no, one tool is the answer to a learning situation. Educators must have a training tool belt full of ideas. By using their own internal resources, those available online and our connections to other individuals, instructors today can educate and motivate their students. If we take a look at our curriculum through multiple different theoretical lenses, consider the learning styles and abilities of our students, integrate technology when possible and remember to be personable with our students, we will succeed as Instructional Designers.
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).
Ormrod, J. (Accessed 2008). Learning Styles and Strategies. [Video Program]. Walden University Resources
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reflecting on Learning

When I first started the Learning Theories and Instruction class through Walden University, we were asked to reflect on how we learn. I thought of how I learn on an individual level and on a social level. Throughout this class we have discussed how using learning theories may help us effectively design classes. It is interesting to me that my first thoughts were about individual and social learning, and that the various learning theories we have encountered over this course have dealt with the various individual and social ways people learn. 

There are many learning theories that an instructional designer may use to influence they way they develop curriculum. As Ormrod, Schunk and Gredler advise, learning theories originally emerged to provide framework for educational researchers. Theories now can assist us in guiding such research and also encourage well-developed, practical learning modules (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009). When I first started this class, I felt that learning theories were great guides to understanding the historical approaches individuals have taken to education. I also thought that the theories could assist us when researching education. However, I now see that using learning theories can help me make better training. For example, Behaviorist theory can help me develop training for learner’s who need extra help understanding a process. I can use the elements of this theory to observe the actions of my student, explain to them my expectations, show them the correct actions and reward them when they act out the correct actions (Standridge, 2001).  I have also learned that individuals have different learning styles or preferences that may influence how well they learn. I can use this information to create more robust training presentations and activities that reach all of my students (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008).  Even if my students do not have different learning styles, I also gathered information on learning strategies that I can teach to develop my student’s cognitive abilities. For example, teaching them how to monitor their comprehension by stopping periodically during a learning experience to assess the learning process and internally reflect on how well they are learning (Ormrod, accessed 2011).
I believe that the best learning strategy for me is to either read and reflect on information or to learn in a social situation where I can gain more experience on the topic by discussing it with others. I also like using my many information networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) or my newly found education related blogs as information sources. These sources keep me connected to the world of instructional design and consistently challenge and better my knowledge. These connections are key to keeping up to date in my field and creating the best possible training.  I can also use technological information sources to learn how to use innovative tools like Adobe, Lectora and other applications to create online learning solutions.

As I reflect over the last seven weeks, I realize just how much my understanding of learning has changed. I have put this understanding to work in my organization. I strive to consider the different learning styles/preferences of my students. I also consider my training through different theoretical lenses. In this way, I hope to be the best instruction and designer of training I can be.


Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from

Ormrod, J. (Accessed 2011). “Learning Styles and Strategies. [Video Program]. Walden University Resources

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

Standridge, M. (2001). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from