Learning Design in the 21st Century
Several factors impact how individuals learn. Some of these factors are more general in nature. For example, someone may prefer to learn in a traditional classroom with an in-person lecture. Given the advances in technology, some learners prefer the convenience of logging on to their computers to engage in online discussions and complete their assignments online. As programs in various colleges and universities consider how they structure their courses, different learning styles and theories must be considered. The theories from psychologists and the foundation of learning science help define and shape the approaches that should be taken to support the multifaceted approach to supporting learners.
Research has established that there are three fundamental principles of learning: “1) building on learners’ background knowledge; 2) connecting prior knowledge to new learning; and 3) requiring students to reflect on their own learning” (“Learning Sciences,” n.d.). These principles apply to all learners regardless of age and background. As the On-U Learning selection committee prepares to create additional courses and programs, there are some important historical perspectives to consider. Popular in 1920 through 1950, theorist believed that people learned based on positive or negative reinforcement, also known as behaviorism (“Behaviorism,” n.d.). These reinforcements can lead to habits forming. The critique of this theory is that there is no consideration for free will or consciousness. Understanding that learners have a responsibility and role with their learning, psychologist presented the theory of cognitivism to encompass the idea that new learning occurs when learners can connect new information and ideas with things that they already understand (“Cognitivism,” n.d.). Theorists acknowledge that there are elements of both of these theories in online learning today.
In addition to specific theories, there are two psychologists that have also shared their thoughts on the different learning styles. Lev Vygotsky brought up the idea of meaningful interactions as part of learning. He conceptualized the Social Development Theory, which supports the idea that social interaction is required for cognitive development (“Lev Vygotsky,” n.d.). This theory is in line with many learners that prefer in-class sessions or hybrid courses. Vygotsky also conceptualized the Zone of Proximal Development, which is essentially a scale that is unique to each learner. The scale ranges from “what the learner is able to do independently,” what the learner can do with some support and what is out of the learners comfort zone (McLoed, 2014). The ideal spot for a learner is in the middle of this scale where they can pull from what they know and what they need to work towards. Psychologist John Dewey promoted the idea of experimental learning, which includes a hands-on interdisciplinary approach (“John Dewey,” n.d.). He believed that learning should have real-life application. A contemporary theory that is related to this is constructivism. Learners learn by active engagement with educational material (“Constructivism,” n.d.)
In sum, it is important for learners and instructors to understand that people learn from a combined approach of theories. Past experiences can impact how we learn. For example, receiving an acknowledgement for a job well done could lead to other positive behaviors. So elements of behaviorism may be present. It is also important for an individual to determine how they best learn. This can lead to higher productivity when one can pull from strategies that best support their learning styles.
Behaviorism (n.d.) Retrieved January 14, 2019, from University of Maryland University College website: https://lti.umuc.edu/contentadaptor/page/topic?keyword=Behaviorism
Constructivism (n.d.) Retrieved January 14, 2019, from University of Maryland University College website: https://lti.umuc.edu/contentadaptor/page/topic?keyword=Constructivism
John Dewey (n.d.) Retrieved January 14, 2019, from University of Maryland University College website: https://lti.umuc.edu/contentadaptor/page/topic?keyword=John%20Dewey
Learning Sciences (n.d.) Retrieved January 14, 2019, from University of Maryland University College website:https://lti.umuc.edu/contentadaptor/page/topic?keyword=Learning%20Sciences
Lev Vygotsky (n.d.) Retrieved January 14, 2019, from University of Maryland University College website: https://lti.umuc.edu/contentadaptor/page/topic?keyword=Lev%20Vygotsky
McLeod, S. (2014). Lev Vygotsky. Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html
- Communicate clearly in writing and speaking
- Apply logical processes to formulate clear defensible ideas
- Use mathematical information, operations and analyses to solve problems and inform decision-making
- Lead, facilitative and collaborate with a variety of individuals and teams to achieve operational objectives
- Demonstrate competency in learning theory, curriculum design techniques and instruction and the assessment of learning and the learning process
- Apply mathematical operations, analytical concepts and operations and analytical tools to address programs and information decision making that optimize that optimize the teaching and learning process
- Demonstrate competency in media production. communication and dissemination techniques and methods
- Lead learning design projects targeted to specific institutional needs, priorities and strategies
The courses completed for the Masters degree in Learning Design and Technology involved communicating thoughts and ideas related to course design clearly, and supporting these ideas with theories and current research trends. To make decisions on the appropriate approach and to assess the impact of modules designed, we learned several assessment methods and employed several analytical tools to ensure that the learner engagement and that appropriate curriculum design strategies were incorporated. By building a course as a team we learned to collaborate to achieve a common goal and develop a product for a client. The final aspects of the degree program allowed us to demonstrate our abilities to design a project to address a specific institutional need and use several communication and dissemination strategies to effectively work with the client.