(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).
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