Final Course Reflection

(The following is a copy of my final course reflection which was required to be posted on my blog).

Although I generally dislike writing reflection assignments, I actually do enjoy non-compulsory informal reflection from time to time. I see the value in reflecting and at this particular moment in time, it is a good point to stop and reflect on my growth throughout this course. Luckily, this corresponds to a time when a formal written reflection is required. Reflecting on the suggested prompts definitely makes me appreciate what I have learned in this course.

What I found most surprising about how people learn is the fact that most people actually learn in very similar ways. During my teacher training, the concept of learning styles and differentiated instruction had been pushed on us by every one of our instructors, yet as it turns out, learning styles do not reflect how people actually learn (Costandi, 2013; Cuevas, 2014; Goldhill, 2016; Pashler, 2009; Pullman, 2017). In reality, matching a teaching style with a so-called learning style does not produce any improvements upon student learning or understanding (Glenn, 2009; Pashler, 2009).

As far as my personal learning process is concerned, this course has helped me recognize two aspects of my learning that I hadn’t fully appreciated in the past: my requirement for new knowledge to be based upon prior knowledge, and my requirement for relevance of the content in order to keep me motivated in my learning. I have always been a fan of the constructivist viewpoint, which states that new knowledge is filtered through the prior knowledge and experiences of the learner (Ertmer, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Ormrod, 2009), but it wasn’t until this course that I thought about how my understanding of course content might be different from how others understand it. I also now recognize that basing learning on prior knowledge is a method of increasing motivation in learners (Keller, 1987; Keller 1999). The use of content and teaching methods that are relevant to the learner is another method for increasing motivation in learners that has a huge impact on me (Keller, 1987; Keller 1999). In the future, if I take a poorly designed course, I will do my best on my end to make the course relevant to myself, and to recognize when my prior knowledge and experiences are being used.

In studying the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation, I realized that it is not just about psychologists trying to understand how we learn, but rather about how to make us better learners. Although each learning theory is quite different, they provide information about how we learn, which can be translated into learning techniques (Ertmer, 2013). Although learning styles are not real, the learning preferences can help an instructional designer develop better teaching and learning strategies (Laureate education, n.d.). Although not all educational technology is useful, some is absolutely transformative and can bring about better learning apps (Borovoy, 2013; Burns, 2014a; Burns, 2014b; Dabbs, 2014; Davis, 2014; Davis, 2017; Miller, 2012; Richards, 2015; Robledo, 2012). The cherry on the top is motivation, which although it is internal to the learner, can be affected by the course design (Keller, n.d.; N.A., n.d.; Small, n.d.).

As a result of this course, I will be sure to use three things in my instructional design career. Firstly, I will base courses on the prior knowledge of the learners (Ertmer, 2013; Ormrod, 2009). Secondly, rather than relying on learning styles, I will use dual-coding theory to differentiate my instruction (Cuevas, 2014). Thirdly, to motivate my learners, I will use Keller’s ARCS model to ensure that all aspects of motivation are covered (Keller, 1987; Keller 1999).



Borovoy, A.E. (2013, August). 5-Minutes film festival: mobile learning. Retrieved from


Burns, M. (2014a, January). Android Apps: math, ELA, and video streaming. Retrieved from


Burns, M. (2014b, October). Using scannable technology to reach parents year round. Retrieved from


Costandi, M. (2013; April). The myth of learning styles. Retrieved from


Cuevas, J. (2014, October). Brain-based learning, myth versus reality: testing learning styles

and dual coding. Retrieved from

Dabbs, L. (2012, October). Mobile learning support for new teachers. Retrieved from


Davis, V. (2014, January). 20 Awesome BYOD and mobile learning apps. Retrieved from


Davis, V. (2017, June). The epic BYOD toolbox. Retrieved from


Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing

Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26, 43-71.


Glenn, D. (2009, December). Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help

Students. Retrieved from


Goldhill, O. (2016, January). The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest

neuroscience myths. Retrieved from


Jenkins, J. (2006). Constructivism. In Encyclopedia of educational leadership and administration. Retrieved from the e-Reference from Sage database.


Keller, J.M. (1987). The systematic process of motivation design. Performance and instruction, 26(9), 1-8.


Keller, J.M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (78).


Keller, J.M. (n.d.).  ARCS model of motivational design (keller). Retrieved from


Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies [Video file]. Retrieved from


Miller, A. (2012, October). Practical tips for mobile learning in the PBL classroom. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.). Instructional strategies for stimulating motivation. Retrieved from


Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate

custom edition). New York: Pearson.


Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning Styles: concepts and

evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105-119.


Pullman, J. (2017, March). Brain scientists: ‘learning styles’ like auditory, visual, and

kinesthetic are bunk. Retrieved from


Richards. R. (2015, March). The qualitative formative assessment toolkit: document learning with mobile technology. Retrieved from


Robledo, S.J. (2012, October). Mobile learning: 6 apps and web tools for high school students. Retrieved from


Small, R.V. (n.d.). Motivation in instructional design. Retrieved from


Fitting the pieces together

This week we were asked to reflect on our first discussion posting of the Learning Theories and Instruction course (Swanson, 2017) and how our views have changed as we progressed through this course. To be honest, my opinion of the most relevant learning theory has not changed since that post, however, what has changed is the amount of evidence I have to back up my opinion. The more I learned about constructivism, the more I agreed about its central tenets, and the more I learned about other learning theories, the more I disagreed with their views.

Based on the research I have performed for this course, I believe that constructivism best explains how we learn. I agree with the notion that when we learn something new, it is filtered through our prior knowledge and experiences, mental structures, social interactions, motivations, and beliefs (Ertmer, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Keesee, 2011). I agree with the principle that “learners construct much of what they learn and understand” (Ormrod, 2009), rather than acting as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge (Ertmer, 2013). Although I view some aspects of cognitive theory (such as research on encoding, storage, and retrieval) as beneficial to understanding how we learn, I still view the overall learning process as one of construction (Ertmer, 2013). I do not have confidence in the assertion of social learning theorists that social interactions are a requirement for learning, nor do I have confidence in the assertion of connectivism theorists that knowledge being stored in a group of people counts as a method of learning (Davis, 2008; Kim, 2001; Ormrod, 2009; Siemens, 2004). As far as learning styles are concerned, I believe that a better term would be learning preferences, as these represent differing opinions of learners on how they learn best, rather than distinct differences in their learning abilities during different methods of instruction (Armstrong, 2009; Costandi, 2013; Gardner, 2003; Goldhill, 2016; Pullman, 2017).

As far as my own learning preferences are concerned, in order to remember new information, I have always found a need to elaborate on the information and this correlates well with the cognitivist principle of encoding and the constructivist principle of filtering knowledge through prior information (Ertmer, 2013; Ormrod, 2009). I also prefer to both see and hear presented information simultaneously or near-simultaneously, and this corresponds well with the idea of dual-coding. According to Ormrod, “dual-coded knowledge may be remembered better, which has important educational implications and confirms the general teaching principle of explaining (verbal) and demonstrating (visual) new material” (Ormrod, 2009). This makes sense based on the explanation of Cuevas that “conceptual knowledge is widely distributed among neural networks throughout the brain, but the pathways connecting those networks appear to be separate, particularly for auditory and visual stimuli … the combined power of bringing both hemispheres into use will increase our ability to retain information without pushing us into cognitive overload.” (Cuevas, 2014).

Although I am doubtful of the validity of connectivism as a learning theory, I must confess that technology does play a role in how I learn these days. To date I have completed nine online certificate programs, six in-depth online courses (once complete, this current course would bring the total up to seven), and a myriad online personal interest courses through organizations such as Coursera and Udemy. I also perform a good deal of academic research through online university libraries and Google Scholar, not to mention general research on Google and YouTube. Not only does technology help me research, but I also use technology to complete assignments (Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Audition, Camtasia, Storyline, Captivate, etc.), to collaborate with others (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneNote, WordPress, Twitter, etc.), and to keep in touch with knowledgeable contacts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Although I have been stubborn in my views on learning, this course has helped me better understand the viewpoints of others and the weaknesses in their arguments. It has also helped me better understand the arguments over learning styles, to which I had only been recently introduced. With the information I now possess, I feel that I would be a much more successful instructional designer.



Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. (3rd ed.) Alexandria, VA:

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Costandi, M. (2013; April). The myth of learning styles. Retrieved



Cuevas, J. (2014, October). Brain-based learning, myth versus reality: testing learning styles

and dual coding. Retrieved from


Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.),

Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from


Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing

Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26, 43-71.


Gardner, H. (2003, April 21). Multiple intelligences after 20 years. Paper presented to the

American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from


Goldhill, O. (2016, January). The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest

neuroscience myths. Retrieved from


Jenkins, J. (2006). Constructivism. In Encyclopedia of educational leadership and administration.

Retrieved from the e-Reference from Sage database.


Keesee, G.S. (2011). Learning Theories. Retrieved from


Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning,

teaching and technology. Retrieved from


Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate

custom edition). New York: Pearson.


Pullman, J. (2017, March). Brain scientists: ‘learning styles’ like auditory, visual, and kinesthetic

are bunk. Retrieved from


Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. [online] Retrieved from


Swanson, P. (2017, July). Understanding the learning process [discussion post]. Retrieved from

Reflection on connectivism mind map

(Please see previous post to view mind map)

Creating this mind map was very interesting for me. Generally, I prefer to be independent and try as much as possible not to rely on others. Therefore, when I read the assignment to create a mind map of all my connections, I thought my mind map would be quite empty. However, as I was reflecting on my connections, I realized that I do have quite a few people on whom I can rely, and who are important to me in my current career, my former careers, and in other areas of life. Some of these connections are from my schooling, others are from work, and others are from my pastimes, church, neighbors, or other less easily categorized groups. Note that I purposely left the branches of the mind map as categories rather than listing specific people, as I wanted to protect the privacy of those people. I also have connections to many others through technology, such as through my YouTube channel and other social networking sites.

I don’t believe that my network has significantly changed the way that I learn. For academic subjects, I tend to learn mostly on my own and it is unless absolutely necessary I do not ask other students for help. However, I do rely on the expertise of my professors and instructors to direct me to good resources that I may use to study various topics. When it comes to other aspects of my life such as sports or knitting, I rely heavily on both my coaches/ instructors and on my peers.

I do not believe that the majority of my social networking sites have had a major impact on my learning. Although I do have a LinkedIn account, I have only recently set up the account, therefore I have few connections. My other accounts such as Facebook and Instagram are more for personal than professional use. Although Twitter and RSS feeds can be useful to obtaining information, I do not use these regularly enough to get the benefit. However, I do find that YouTube, blogs, and general online research (such as through the Walden University Library) are effective in facilitating learning for me.

When I have questions, most of the time I do a simple search on Google or YouTube. Although not all the information that can be found through these searches is accurate, it is possible to locate effective and accurate sources of information. I was lucky enough to take a certificate course called “Power Searching with Google” and one of the topics was how to identify accurate information on a webpage. This has been helpful to me with all my research needs ever since. If I cannot locate the answer to my questions online, in the rarest of circumstances, I will ask one of my connections for help.

Connectivism describes the ways in which each person is connected to others (often through technology) and how people learn through their connections, rather than on their own (Davis, 2008; Siemens, 2004). It also describes how knowledge is transmitted through an organization or group. This is, somewhat of an extension of the social constructivism learning theory (Kim, 2001; Ormrod, 2009; Siemens, 2004). I personally am more in agreement with the tenets of classical constructivism, although I see some benefits to these other theories. Perhaps one of the reasons that I tend to agree with classical constructivism as opposed to social constructivism or connectivism is because I typically learn on my own. Although there are people who create the courses or videos from which I learn, I generally avoid interacting with others while learning, when possible. This makes it hard for me to believe that social interactions are required for learning (Kim, 2001; Ormrod, 2009). [For Walden students, I posted more about this topic in our Week 4 discussion (Swanson, 2017)]. As far as connectivism is concerned, I must confess that the use of technology has made learning easier for me, although I do not consider it to be essential for learning (which is a requirement of a true learning theory) (Davis, 2008; Siemens, 2004).



Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.),

Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from


Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning,

teaching and technology. Retrieved from


Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate

custom edition). New York: Pearson.


Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. [online] Retrieved from


Swanson, P. (2017, July). Social and constructivist learning [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from


Helpful journals on brain science

For our second assignment this week, we were asked to select two journals and/or websites related to brain science and review them on our blogs. As a former scientist, I decided to explore some scientific journals in the area of educational psychology and instructional design so that I can get information that I can be relatively sure is creditable, rather than relying on websites which can have variable accuracy. I chose three journals for this assignment: Instructional Science, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Educational Psychologist.


Instructional Science, which has been in publication since 1972, is focused on instructional design for learners of all ages in formal and informal learning contexts. The journal also has a mix of technologically based and non-technologically based articles. According to their website, the journal “promotes a deeper understanding of the nature, theory, and practice of learning and of environments in which learning occurs” (N.A., n.d.a). Some recent articles in this journal include an investigation into eye tracking while learners examine science illustrations, an examination of the effect of multimedia on cognitive load, and analysis of whether incorporating problem solving prior to instruction improves learning. I feel that with the mix of types of articles and the varying focus of each article would provide an instructional designer with a good amount of knowledge of the current best practices in instructional design. I also like that there are articles devoted to specific types of instruction, such as math or science.


Journal of Educational Psychology is focused on psychological research about learners of all ages and abilities. Some recent articles in this journal include an analysis of the benefits of peer collaboration during problem solving, an investigation into the effects of verbal cues on how learners process visuals, and an examination of how learners learn math when verbal versus visuospatial working memory is activated. I feel that the high level psychological articles presented in this journal would provide an instructional designer excellent knowledge of how the brain and aspects of learning affect learners. Following some reflection on the articles, this can then be translated into instructional design features by the instructional designer.


Educational Psychologist is focused on psychological research in a wide range of areas. These areas include teaching methods as well as educational concepts. Some recent articles in this journal include an investigation into the effects of digital games on learning using a constructivist viewpoint, an examination of the effects of gender on working memory usage, and an analysis of the use of learning goals even when used for self-directed learning. I feel that the interesting areas of research that are often grouped together in themed issues would help an instructional designer understand the root aspects of how their learners learn. As with the Journal of Educational Psychology, the instructional designer could reflect on these articles in order to understand how to better design courses.


All three of these journals have excellent information regarding the brain and information processing and their relation to learning. With access to these journals through the Walden University Library, I hope to keep up to date on this important area of study throughout my time at Walden.



N.A. (n.d.a) Instructional Science: an international journal of the learning sciences. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.b.) Journal of Educational Psychology. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.c) Educational Psychologist. Retrieved from

Preventing or reducing cognitive overload

For our assignment this week, we were asked to choose an interesting blog post and make a response or contribute to the content. I chose a fascinating article by Connie Malamed ( about methods to reduce cognitive load, since this ties in well with our current week’s topic of neuroscience and information processing.


In her blog post, Connie discusses ways to reduce cognitive load that are under the control of the instructional designer. These include removing extraneous content, incorporating reflection practices, writing succinctly, scaffolding new learning, allowing collaboration (to increase efficiency of learning), and supplying cognitive aids. These strategies are backed up by significant scientific research. I found a couple related articles in various scientific journals that provide additional suggestions.


The first article, by Jianzhen Chen of the Tianjin University of Technology and Education, focused on reducing cognitive load in mobile learning. Chen describes cognitive overload caused by poor instructional design, such as when a learner attempts to solve a presented problem, but no problem solving procedure has been presented. Additional issues are caused when information that is needed simultaneously is not available simultaneously, too much new information is introduced too quickly, or learners do not have the prerequisite prior knowledge. Chen provides some suggestions for alleviating these issues such as including learners in the development of the mobile learning, providing proper access to learning resources, removing extraneous content and improving usability of the interface.


The second article, by Annelies Vredeveldt, Graham J. Hitch, and Alan D. Baddeley, focused on visualization through eye closure. Although this article was not specific to instructional design, it does have implications in learning, specifically as related to the use of reflection. According to the article “Closing the eyes helps people to remember. When faced with a difficult task, people often spontaneously close their eyes or look away,” (Vredeveldt, 2011). The main theory behind this effect is that eye closure reduces the cognitive load, as a result of freeing cognitive resources. An additional theory is that by closing the eyes and blocking visual distractions, an individual can better visualize what they are trying to remember. These concepts come into play in regards to learning when we ask learners to reflect on their learning. Perhaps a suggestion to close their eyes would actually be very useful in helping them recall more of the content that was presented. It could also help to have learners close their eyes when attempting to activate prior knowledge, so that they can make better connections to the newly learned information while it is in their short term memory and being encoded for storage in long term memory.


Overall, the suggestions provided by Connie Malamed, as well as the additional suggestions by Chen and Vredeveldt would likely be very helpful to an instructional designer. Understanding how to limit cognitive overload would allow an instructional designer to develop more effective courses that encourage rather than challenge learning.



Chen, J. (2010). Proceedings from 2010 International Conference on Networking and Digital Society: Reducing cognitive load in mobile learning: activity-centered perspectives. United States.


Malamed, C. (n.d.). Six strategies you may not be using to reduce cognitive load. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from


Vredeveldt, A., Hitch, G.J., & Baddeley, A.D. (2011). Eyeclosure helps memory by reducing cognitive load and enhancing visualisation. Memory and Cognition. Vol 39: 1253-1263.

Useful Instructional Design Blogs

As a future instructional designer, it is important to keep up to date on the current trends in the field. A great way to do this is by reading the blog postings of other instructional design professionals and instructional design companies. This is a helpful way to pick up tricks, techniques, and even theory. As part of our first assignment for EDUC 6115, I have chosen three English language blogs that I find particularly useful and have posted a description of these blogs below. In addition to the assignment requirements, I added a helpful resource (for learning assets) and three French language blogs to my list (for my own reference – not as part of the assignment). These French language blogs can not only provide me with additional information similar to what I can find in the English language blogs, but they also will help me learn the insider language of ‘la conception pédagogique’ or instructional design, which will be helpful as I hope to eventually attain a bilingual job.


The first blog I examined is the eLearning coach. This is an excellent blog with sections devoted to articles about eLearning design, mobile learning, eLearning 2.0, and cognition. It also provides a series of multimedia resources, book reviews, and podcasts on various instructional design topics. This site has been in existence for quite a while, therefore there are many extremely helpful resources presented. I hope to specifically focus on eLearning as I launch my instructional design career, so I think that this blog will be a helpful resources as I look for information to improve my eLearning practices and projects. In fact, the site author wrote a book, Visual Design Solutions: Principles and Creative Inspiration for Learning Professionals, which I had previously seen on Amazon and had put in my shopping bag to purchase at a later date. Based on the information I have seen in the preview of the book, and my overview of the blog, I believe that the eLearning coach will be an excellent blog to follow.


The second blog I examined is the eLearning industry. There are multiple contributors to this site, which means that there will be multiple points of view on various topics. I think that increases the validity of the blog. This blog has a number of interesting blog posts, such as how to choose an LMS or adaptive design authoring tool, incorporation of micro learning, managing discussion groups in online learning, and preparing for multilingual online training. The blog also has a series of free eBooks available for download. I think this site will be extremely useful as I move forward in my career as an instructional designer focusing on eLearning development. The posts are varied and take different points of view which will be useful to me when it comes to getting the best information. This blog will likely serve as an ongoing resource for me.


The third blog I examined is the eLearning Heroes. Although we focus on Adobe Captivate in our courses at Walden, a similar piece of software, Articulate Storyline, is equally popular and I have been learning it on my own to best prepare myself for future employment (since I do not know which rapid authoring software each company prefers). The eLearning Heroes website is part of the community built around the Articulate Storyline software. Similar to the eLearning Industry blog, there are multiple contributors to this site. The blog not only provides useful posts such as help for choosing eLearning characters, course navigation, and recording screencasts, but it also provides many free resources, such as eBooks, games, and interactions. This blog also provides links to job boards. Additionally, it provides a link to another useful blog, the rapid eLearning blog ( This site has many useful tips and tools, although because it is run by the Articulate company, it can be a bit biased for their software. As I continue on in the instructional design field, I will need to be aware of various pieces of software and various techniques, such as visual design, typography, working with subject matter experts, etc. (eBooks are provided for all of these areas on the blog).


The additional resource that I promised in my introduction and can help with choosing assets is the eLearning Brothers website. This website provides some free assets, although a subscription is required to get the full set of assets. These assets include templates, interactions, cut-out people, graphics, videos, and sounds.


The first French blog that I investigated is les essentiels du eLearning: un blog sur tout ce qui touche au eLearning. This blog covers a wide variety of interesting topics, such as the effect of your color schemes on your learners, creating interactive eLearning modules, Bloom’s taxonomy and storyboarding.


The second French blog that I investigated is Skillendo. This blog belongs to the website of a company that provides instructional design services. Some of the topics discussed on this website include social learning, how to choose an LMS, and the return of mastery learning.


The third French blog that I investigated is eTeach. Similar to Skillendo, this blog is part of a website for a company that provides instructional design services. Some interesting blog posts include gamification, how to create an engaging training, and online new employee induction programs.



LaMotte, A. (n.d.) Les essentiels du eLearning: un blog sur tout ce qui touche au eLearning. [Web log].

Retrieved from


Malamed, C. (n.d.). The eLearning Coach: Helping You Design Better Learning Experiences. [Web log].

Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) eLearning Brothers. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) eLearning Heroes. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.). eLearning Industry. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) eTeach. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) Skillendo: Training is just a joy. [Web log]. Retrieved from