Analyzing Scope Creep

Posted: June 15, 2015 in Instructional Design

This week, I am analyzing scope creep and why it is important for project managers to control the scope of a project.  According to Portny et al. (2008), scope creep is “another common source of change is the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses”.  Request for changes in a project will occur and cannot be avoided, however, a project manager can monitor, control, and reduce some of the problems resulting from scope creep.

Based on my previous experiences in the workplace related to scope creep, I have learned that it is vital to have a change control system in every project plan and it is necessary to obtain signoffs on changes approved in writing.  A change control system “is a process whereby changes can be introduced and accomplished with as little distress as possible” (Portny et al, 2008, p.346).  On my project team, when there is a request for a change, a change request form is submitted which details the changes required.   The project plan will get updated to reflect changes in the budget, schedule, resources, deliverables, etc.  Also, we try to release new versions of our software on release schedules to manage some the enhancement or change request for improvements.  Several years ago, our group was small and we did not have a formal change control system in place.  When our group experienced rapid growth, managing changes became more challenging.  There were times when the clients would get upset because of misunderstandings in the changes requested, delays in the projects, and additional project cost, etc.  We had to implement a formal change control system to minimize these problems.

In addition, I have learned that it is important to consider how changes can impact other project tasks or system functionality.  Changes to any software application need to be tested thoroughly before being pushed to production.  If not tested and implemented properly, a change can break something else in the system that can cause issues as well.  Therefore, it is very important that project managers effectively cope with change and scope creep.

Reference

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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This week, I observed three different modes of communication, written text, voicemail, and face-to-face in the multimedia program “The Art of Effective Communication”.   According to Portny et al. (2008), effective communication is the key to successful project management. “The ability to communicate, both orally and in writing, is a critical skill for project managers”(Portny et al.,2008,p.357). In project management, utilizing a combination of written text and audio or written text and face-to-face communication can be the very effective if done well.

First, I observed the email communication.  The email communication is a written record from Jane to Mark regarding a missing report that he did not deliver on time and may cause her to miss her own deadline.  Although it is good that this information was captured in writing, I did not sense the urgency of the issue in the email. It is important that Jane conveys a clear message that will capture the recipient’s attention to point out the urgency of the issue.  The use of color contrast, color combinations, upper and lowercase lettering, bullets, and/or bolded font could have been utilized by Jane in this email.

Next, I observed the voicemail communication.  Although the same exact message was communicated from Jane to Mark via voicemail, I was able to interpret the urgency of the issue by the tone used in Jane’s voice.  However, utilizing voicemail alone may not be enough because Jane will not be able to confirm whether or not Mark received the message or if he received it in a timely manner. “Using voicemail to communicate with coworkers is a necessary evil, but for many people listening to voicemail and returning messages is time consuming and breaks their concentration”(How, n.d.).  Younger employees now communicate messages via Tweets, IMs, and text messages (How, n.d.).

Finally, I observed the face-to-face communication.  When Jane spoke to Mark directly, I did not sense the urgency of the issue in her voice.  More than likely, she did not want to be confrontational when speaking directly to Mark.  Communicating this way is informal and the information discussed still needs to be captured in writing.  Therefore using a combination of these communication methods may be more effective.

References

How to use voicemail effectively at work. (n.d.). Retrieved  from http://www.howtogeek.com/54044/how-to-use-voicemail-effectively-at-work/

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The art of effective communication [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects: Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Currently, I work in a department for a company that provides support for an automated survey tool that enables our customers to provide timely and specific feedback on their customer experience.  Customers who recently had contact with us will receive an automated call, email, or SMS and be asked a few simple questions about how well the interaction went on a daily basis.  Coaches and supervisors receive survey results and customer comments on a daily basis and this information is used to assist them in coaching and recognition.  These results help supervisors and their employees clearly understand their areas of weakness and strength.

Our group develops new and modifies existing surveys for clients in various business units throughout the company.  While working in this department, I previously worked on project to modify an existing survey for a client that did not result in desired outcomes.  The original PM working on the project left the company and the project was reassigned to me.  Initially, the project appeared to be routine with just a few changes to the questions and a change from a ten (10) point response scale to a five (5) point scale. A statement of work, business requirements, and project plan was already developed and the project appeared to be on track for a successful implementation.  The client’s desire was to increase customer take rates by offering customers shorter surveys to complete.

However, after subsequent meetings with the client, it was discovered that a major requirement had been missed and the entire project was in jeopardy of failing.  I learned that this was one of our only clients that conducted the survey in various languages.  This requirement was not in the original business requirements and not factored into the project plan.  Although less than five (5) percent of the total surveys were conducted in another language, it was vital to have all the languages implemented in production due to labor contracts.  The client admitted to missing this requirement in the initial project scope, however, our team should have anticipated this need.  There were new people on both the client’s side and our side and this requirement was missed.  According to Portney et. al (2008), “the more thoroughly a project manager plans and manages a project, the more likely the project will be deemed a success”.

The scope of the entire project changed with this new requirement.  Language translations were necessary and the entire survey had to be re-recorded in various languages.  Talent had to be hired to record the surveys and this impacted the budget and timeline of the project.  Testing was also more complicated because only testers who can understand the language perform the test.  Coordination with testers throughout the country in different time zones had to be worked into the schedule as well.  A change in scope document was necessary and new signoffs were required.   The project had to be delivered in multiple versions.  The first version, surveys were offered in English and Spanish only, which was the standard.  In the second version, all other languages were offered.  This problem could have been avoided if more experienced and senior staff on both our side and the client’s side participated during the initial stages of the project.  Also, in order to avoid this problem from occurring again in the future, even if an employee leaves the company, a detailed template was developed outlining all the requirements and considerations needed for new or modified surveys.  In addition, all documentation is stored in a location that can be retrievable by all employees in our group.

Reference

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

This week, I will reflect on the current and future perceptions of distance learning in our society.  In this course, I have learned that distance learning has evolved and will continue to evolve over the years.  The definition of distance education has changed over the years as well.  A current definition of distance education is that it is “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 32).   In the past, correspondence study, which is over a 100 years old, was a distance education option carried out through the postal service (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 37).

With the rapid advances in technology, the demand for distance learning is increasing in the education setting.  In the education setting, distance learning is a viable option for students who would like to continue their education but have to juggle work, family, and personal responsibilities.   This may attract adult working professionals who have to juggle these responsibilities.  However in the next 5-10 years, I believe that an increasing number of younger students will be attracted to distance learning.  Many younger students have to work odd hours and participate in athletic sports need flexibility.  This is offered in offered in distance learning.  In addition, the younger population tends to keep up with the latest trends in technology.  To be a successful distance learner, students need to be tech savvy. George Siemen’s points out in the video, The future of distance education, that there is a “growing acceptance of distance education” (Laureate, n.d.).  This is due to the in the increase in online communication, a growing comfort with online distance courses, and the ability to communicate with diverse groups around the world (Laureate, n.d.). The changes in the perception of distance education will continue to be factors in the next 10-20 years.  In addition, new technologies and increased multimedia options will continue to be factors in distance education in the next 10-20 years.

There is a growing demand for distance learning training in the business environment.  Distance learning is becoming more popular due to the availability of technology and collaborative tools used within companies including web conferencing, wiki’s, webinars, blogs, email, CHAT/IM, videos, etc.  These technologies allow companies to communicate and interact with offices around the world (Laureate, n.d.).  In the next 5-10 years, distance learning training will be a viable option for companies that want to save significantly on travel expenses, and provide flexible training options for employees with busy schedules.    In the next 10-20 years, I believe that collaborating with employees globally will continue to grow as more people become comfortable with these technologies.  Collaboration in the workplace is important.  According to Wiesen (2015), “collaborative training is a form of training in which a number of people learn together as a group, usually through a system such as computers connected through an Internet connection.”

Although there has been continued growth and change is distance learning, there is still room for improvement is societal perceptions of distance learning.  There is still room for improvement in the way some value distance learning degree programs and quality of instruction.  As an instructional designer (ID), my goal is to create quality learning experiences.  IDs must take the needs of distant learners into consideration and keep them engaged.  When planning for instruction, understanding the characteristics of distant learners and the factors that influence their success is necessary to create positive learning experiences.  According to Dede (2005), “rapid advances in information technology are reshaping the learning styles of many students in higher education”.  Today, young and adult students are involved in distance education.  IDs have to keep both adult and young learners, those in the millennial generation born between the years of 1982 and 2005, interested in the course.  Courses should be interactive and dynamic to help learners retain information.  In the business environment, IDs have to consider the rapidly changing business environments.  Since clients in corporate environments are so diverse, it is important to get an understanding of their different learning styles and needs.

It is important that IDs properly plan a distance education course.  I know that it is important to “plan and organize a distance education course well ahead of the scheduled instruction” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.153).  This will avoid pitfalls and problems in the course and enable learners to have positive learning experiences.  When planning for instruction, IDs should utilize instructional design models, such as ADDIE, to create effective learning instructional modules.

There is a need for more widely used evaluations tools for online courses.  There is still a need for new methodologies in the ID field that will integrate electronic performance support systems (EPSS), knowledge management (KM), and training components, which will take the new approach to needs assessment and ROI evaluation (Moller, Foshay, & Huett , 2008).
References

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1), 7–12.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Wiesen, G. (2015, January 1). What Is Collaborative Training? Retrieved January 26, 2015, from http://www.wisegeek.net/what-is-collaborative-training.htm

This week, I chose to identify possible solutions to the following distance learning challenge:

Example 1: Collaborative Training Environment

A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

In today’s business environment, collaboration in the workplace is important.  For this scenario, a collaborative training solution is needed.  According to Wiesen (2015), “collaborative training is a form of training in which a number of people learn together as a group, usually through a system such as computers connected through an Internet connection.”  As an instructional designer for the corporation charged with implementing the training workshop for these offices, I  would consider utilizing distance learning technologies that allow employees, who are located in different locations, to communicate, contribute, and share information.  I would establish a flexible training schedule that will give employees multiple options to complete the training.

One of the technologies I would consider utilizing in this training scenario is a wiki.   From classrooms to corporate intranets, wikis are being utilized by people to help them to collaborate, share and build information (Rai, 2008).  A wiki is usually thought to be a space designed to be created and edited by groups of persons using a web browser (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 129). Users can create, edit, remove or contribute to pages using a web browser.  In addition users can share resources such as documents, videos, spreadsheets, important links, FAQ’s, key terms, discussion questions, and project documentation. Wiki’s are very resourceful tools that can be utilized by team members.  These resources can be accessed by staff members at any time and location.  To promote the wiki, email notifications and social media can be used to get the word out.  Wikis are great to use for ongoing collaboration.

For this training scenario, I would also consider producing webinars utilizing web-conferencing software.  “A webinar is a presentation or workshop that is transmitted over the web using video conferencing software” (Beal, 2015). A webinar is interactive allowing participants to give, receive and discuss information (Beal, 2015).  Web conferencing software, such as AT&T Connect and Webex, is needed to produce webinars.  Hundreds of participants, located in the same or different location, can be reached during a webinar.  Videos, graphics, document sharing, guest speakers, and Q&A can be incorporated into a Webinar.  A webinar session can be recorded for future use as a training module.  This is beneficial for employees who are unable to attend the scheduled webinar session.

Reference

Beal, V. (2015). Webinar – Web-based seminar. Retrieved from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/Webinar.html

Rai, P. (2008). Learners Together – Home – Wikis in Business and Education. Retrieved from http://www.learnerstogether.net/home/2008/6/6/wikis-in-business-and-education.html

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Wiesen, G. (2015, January 1). What Is Collaborative Training? Retrieved January 26, 2015, from http://www.wisegeek.net/what-is-collaborative-training.htm

Defining Distance Learning

Posted: January 12, 2015 in Instructional Design

This week in Distance Learning, I have learned that the definition of distance learning has continued to evolve over the years.  The need for distance learning opportunities and advances in technology continue to grow.  Prior to this week, my understanding of distance learning is directly related to my educational and professional experiences as an online learner. However, I learned this week that “distance education is institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 32).  Prior to this week, I did not limit distance learning to being institution-based but included self-study in the definition as well.  Also, I thought distance education was a more recent idea in the field of education.  I was not aware that correspondence study, a 160 years old, was a distance education option carried out through the postal service (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 37).

In the education environment, I previously attended traditional face-to-face classes.   I was not familiar with the option to obtain an education as a distant learner.  However, in more recent years due to advances in technology, I decided to continue my education at Walden University and become a distant learner utilizing the option to achieve a M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology in an online environment.  This was the most viable and flexible option for me since I have to juggle work, family, and personal responsibilities.   Initially, I had to make adjustments in the online learning environment since students and instructors are separated and course work is completed remotely using the internet.  As a distance learner, I communicate with instructors and classmates utilizing computer-based communication such as email, discussion boards, blogs, and wikis.

In the professional environment, there is a growing demand for distance learning training in the business environment.  There is still a need for traditional face-to-face instruction, especially if complex material is being covered.  However, distance learning is becoming more popular due to the availability of technology and collaborative tools used within companies including web conferencing, wiki’s, webinars, blogs, email, CHAT/IM, videos, etc.

I have observed benefits and challenges with distance learning in the business environment.  Distance learning training allows the company to save significantly on travel expenses when online training opportunities are available.  According to Moller, Foshay, and Huett (2008), “the motivating factors for corporate e-learning are predominantly economic”.  In addition, the distance learning option offers employees with busy schedules flexibility in completing the training at their own pace.  However, there is a need for more effective evaluations and assessments to measure the success of the training including ROI and/or learning outcomes.  According to Moller, Foshay, and Huett (2008),  “evaluation of e-learning is necessary to demonstrate its worth, the need for better and more widely used evaluation models is critical to the future of e-learning”.

It is important for ID professionals who have the required training and background design e-learning modules as opposed to those who do not have the background. According to Huett, Moller, Foshay, and Coleman (2008), ID professionals can “partner with academic researchers to ensure that distance education initiatives truly serve the needs of students.  IDs should determine who should enroll in distance education offerings and promote designs that serve the targeted student population (Huett et al, 2008, p. 64).

The demand for distance learning will continue to grow in the education and business setting.  As and instructional designer, my goal is to improve learning in the business environment.    When designing learning experiences in this environment, I would have to consider the rapidly changing business environments.  Since clients in corporate environments are so diverse, it is important to get an understanding of their different learning styles and needs.  Designing/developing effective online and eLearning training courses is important since distance learning is a growing trend in corporations.  In addition, new methodologies are needed in the ID field that will integrate electronic performance support systems (EPSS), knowledge management (KM), and training components, which will take the new approach to needs assessment and ROI evaluation (Moller, Foshay, & Huett , 2008).

Mind Map of Distance Learning Definition

distance_learning_mind_map

References

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67. doi:10.1007/s11528-008-0199-9

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75. doi:10.1007/s11528-008-0158-5

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Distance Learning

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Instructional Design

My name is Farida Muhammad and I live in Acworth, Georgia.  After 20+ years of professional  experience in IT working in various industries including insurance, banking, and telecommunications, I decided to return to school to achieve a M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology at Walden University.  I am looking forward to utilizing the knowledge that I learn from this program to assist me in becoming an instructional designer to improve learning in the business environment.  I am excited to gain more knowledge about Distance Learning since it is becoming more widely used by companies with access to collaborative tools such as web conferencing, wiki’s, webinars, blogs, email, videos, etc.  I look forward to working with everyone in this class.

In this course, Learning Theories Instruction, I found it striking on how complex the learning process can be.  This course has been an eye-opening learning experience that enabled me to gain a better understanding of my own learning process as well as the various major learning theories including behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, the social learning theory, connectivism, and adult learning.  I also gained an understanding that motivating learners is an important factor in the learning process.

This course has deepened my understanding of my own learning process.  In week one of this course, I realized that learning is more complex than what I understood and I did not have an understanding of the major learning theories.  I had a basic understanding of how I learned as primarily a visual and hands-on learner.  After reviewing behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism in week one, I understood that I learned from techniques and strategies used for each of these learning theories.  One theory does not cover every aspect of learning.  “Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli” (Behaviorism, n.d.).  Behavior is shaped through positive and negative reinforcement (Behaviorism, n.d.).  This increases the likelihood that the antecedent behavior will happen again (Behaviorism, n.d.).  Cognitive theories emphasize making knowledge meaningful and helping learners organize and relate new information to existing knowledge in memory (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).   Constructivism is a theory that equates learning with creating meaning from experience (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).

As the course progressed, my understanding of how I learn and how others learn, continued to change.  I gained knowledge of additional learning theories that explained the learning process.  The social learning theory expands on traditional behavioral theories.  According to Kim (2001), meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities.  I find that online learning classrooms are “social” environments.

Due to advances in technology, the way I learn and others learn has significantly changed over the years.  Today, adult learners can take advantage of online learning since they need flexibility as a result of having to juggle work, family, and personal responsibilities.  Adult learners are self-directed learners who take initiative to learn on their own and at their own pace.  Conlan, Grabowski, and Smith (2003) discuss Malcolm Knowles’ theory of Andragogy, which is the art and science of helping adults learn.  The adult learner is described as someone who can direct his/her own learning; has accumulated life experiences that enables him/her to draw on prior skills and knowledge;  has learning needs closely related to changing social roles; is a problem solver; and is motivated to learn based on his/her needs, interests, and desires (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003).  I am currently an adult learner taking advantage of the viable online learning option as a graduate student.  As an undergraduate student several years ago, this option was not available for me.

After learning about Connectivism, I understand that learning also occurs through networks, which are connections between entities.  According to Siemens (2005), connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations.   After developing my personal learning mind map in week five, I realized that the way I learn is complex because I utilize various different types of technology to learn and I learn from a diverse group of people.  In education, I utilize the personal web to learn and obtain information from.  I am able to collaborate with instructors and classmates via discussion boards, email, blogs, forums, etc.  I am also able to take online classes as opposed to the traditional face-to-face classes.  In the classroom, I also use mobile devices including Ipods, MP3 players, and Ipads.  However, in the U.S., improvements can be made in implementing technology in the K-12 classroom environment.  According to Arnett and Copper (2013), a new survey from Dell suggests that when meeting students’ technology needs, the U.S. can take a few notes from China.  Three-fourths of those surveyed in the U.S. believe there should be more technology in the classroom, compared to an overwhelming 95 percent in China (Arnett & Copper, 2013).

Learning and gaining insight on different learning styles and strategies in this course will greatly influence my practice of instructional design.  Visual learners process information through sight and will benefit from diagrams, charts, pictures, films, and written directions (Farewell, 2012).  Auditory learners process information when it is presented and requested verbally (Farewell, 2012).  Kinesthetic learners process information by touching, feeling, experiencing the material at hand (Farewell, 2012).

It is also important to understand and teach different learning strategies to help students learn and improve their overall learning experience.  According to Ormrod, elaboration is an effective learning strategy and students can take new information and add to it based on what they already know about the world (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  Comprehension monitoring is another simple, but effective learning strategy (Laureate Education, n.d.a).   Both elaboration and comprehension monitoring will have an influence on my instructional design practice.

When designing effective instruction, it is also important to be able to identify students’ intelligences.  Armstrong (2009) describes Howard Gardner’s eight intelligences, which are Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist.

Motivating learners is also an important factor in the learning process because it can impact the learning environment and the learning experience.  According to Ormrod, there are four psychological needs that have implications for motivation (Laureate Education, n.d.b).  They are the need for arousal, the need for competence, the need for self-determination, and the need for relatedness (Laureate Education, n.d.b).   When designing instruction, instructional designers can utilize the ARCS model of motivational design to analyze motivational needs of learners (Keller, 1999).  The four dimensions of motivation in this model are attention (A), relevance (R), confidence (C), and satisfaction (S), or ARCS (Keller, 1999).

The information that I have learned in this class, Learning Theories Instruction, will help me significantly as I enter the field of instructional design.  Having an understanding of my own learning process, the various different learning styles, the major learning theories, and what motivates learners will help me design effective instruction and apply the correct learning theory depending on the learners and the task.  I understand that sometimes a combination of the different learning theories will need to be used while avoiding cognitive overload.

REFERENCES

Armstrong, T. (2009).  Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum

Arnett, A., & Copper, T. (2013). U.S. Still Has More Work to Do in Technology Education.– Higher Education.  Retrieved from http://diverseeducation.com/article/52290/

Behaviorism. (n.d.). Learning Theories RSS. Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/behaviorism.html

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K..(2003). Adult Learning. In M. Orey(Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.  Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspectivePerformance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71.

Farwell, T. (2012). Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic Learners. – FamilyEducation.com. Retrieved from http://school.familyeducation.com/intelligence/teaching-methods/38519.html

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS Motivational Process in Computer-Based Instruction and Distance Education. New Directions For Teaching & Learning1999(78), 39

Kim, B. (2001). Social Constructivism.. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Laureate Education, Inc. [Producer]. (n.d.a). Learning Styles and Strategies. Retrieved from Walden course EDUC 6115.

Laureate Education, Inc. [Producer]. (n.d.b). Motivation in Learning. Retrieved from Walden course EDUC 6115.

Fitting the Pieces Together

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Instructional Design

Over the past several weeks in my Learning Theories and Instruction class, I have gained knowledge and a deeper understanding of the major learning theories including behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, the social learning theory, connectivism, and adult learning.  In week 1 of this course, I had never really put a whole lot of thought about how I learned.  I had a basic understanding of how I learned as primarily a visual and hands-on learner.  After reviewing behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism in week 1, I understood that I learned from techniques and strategies used for each of these learning theories.  One theory does not cover every aspect of learning.

According to Ertmer and Newby (1993),

  • Behaviorism focuses on the importance of the consequences of those performances and contends that responses that are followed by reinforcement are more likely to recur in the future.
  • Cognitive theories emphasize making knowledge meaningful and helping learners organize and relate new information to existing knowledge in memory.
  • Constructivism is a theory that equates learning with creating meaning from experience.

In week 7, my view on how I learn has changed.  I still believe that one theory does not cover every aspect of learning.  However, I now have knowledge of additional learning theories that impact the way I learn. The social learning theory expands on traditional behavioral theories.

According to Kim (2001), meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities.  I find that online learning classrooms are “social” environments.  I learn more from other students in an online learning environment because students tend to share and provide more feedback in this environment due to the class structure.

The way I learn has significantly changed over the years due to the advances in technology.  Since I decided to continue my education as a graduate student, I am now an adult learner needing flexibility of online learning since I have to juggle work, family, and personal responsibilities.  Adult learners are self-directed learners who take initiative to learn on their own and at their own pace.  Conlan, Grabowski, and Smith (2003) discuss Malcolm Knowles’ theory of Andragogy, which is the art and science of helping adults learn.  The adult learner is described as someone who can direct his/her own learning; has accumulated life experiences that enables him/her to draw on prior skills and knowledge;  has learning needs closely related to changing social roles; is a problem solver; and is motivated to learn based on his/her needs, interests, and desires (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003).

After learning about Connectivism, I found that my personal learning network supports Siemen’s Principles of connectivism.  According to Siemens (2005), connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations.

Technology plays a major role in the way I learn today. In education, I utilize the personal web to learn and obtain information from.  I am able to collaborate with instructors and classmates via discussion boards, email, blogs, forums, etc.  I am also able to take online classes as opposed to the traditional face-to-face classes.  In the classroom, I also use mobile devices including Ipods, MP3 players, and Ipads.

With the major advances in cell phone technology my social learning network has changed over the years.  I use cell phone services including text messaging, the ability to access the internet, and email.  Also, I use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Internet Forums, etc. for social networking.

My professional learning network is constantly changing.  As an IT professional, technology is always changing therefore I am constantly learning new information to support the changes.  I utilize on-line technical training and resources frequently.  This includes professional IT blogs, discussion boards and forums, knowledge bases, eLearning courses, SharePoint, webinars, google search, and wikis.

References

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K..(2003). Adult Learning. In M. Orey(Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.  Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspectivePerformance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71.

Kim, B. (2001). Social Constructivism.. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Siemens, G. (2005).  Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.  International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm

This week, in my Learning Theories and Instruction class, I created a mind map to illustrate my personal learning network.  I really enjoyed this assignment because it allowed me to structure information, which helped me to better analyze how I learn from my personal networks.  While creating my mind map, I realized that the way I learn is complex because I utilize various different types of technology to learn and I learn from a diverse group of people.

After learning about Connectivism this week, I found that my personal learning network supports Siemen’s Principles of connectivism.  According to Siemens (2005), connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations.  It is vital to be able to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information and it is also critical to be able to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday (Siemens, 2005).

According to Davis, Edmunds and Bateman (2008), George Siemens’ theory of Connectivism is the combined effect of three different components:

  • Chaos Theory – If the underlying conditions used to make decisions change, the decision is no longer correct as it was the time it was made
  • Importance of Networks – We must create networks which are connections between entities
  • Interplay of complexity and self- organization – A complex system is a collection of interacting agents, representing components as diverse as people, cells, or molecules

Siemens’ (2005) principles of connectivism are:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.

After completing and viewing my personal learning network mind map, I realized that the way I learn today has significantly changed over years and will more than likely change again in the future.  For example, the way I receive a college education has changed over the years.  Years ago, when I worked on my undergraduate degree, I only attended face-to-face classes that were led by an instructor.  Today, I am enrolled in an on-line program to receive my master’s in Instructional Design and Technology.   My learning is more self-directed, flexible, and at my own pace rather than traditional face-to-face classes.  I now learn and get valuable feedback from my instructors and classmates via comments made on discussion boards, email, blogs, etc. rather than face-to-face interactions.  In general, my classmates are more diverse since the on-line learning environment allows students from around the world, in different time zones, to enroll.  Also, today I utilize on-line resources to learn and obtain information including the Walden Library, the writing center, and tech resources.  When I attended college years ago, I would primarily get information from books, etc. from a physical library.  If I needed a tutor, I would have to see a tutor face-to-face.  Today, a tutoring session can be done on-line.

My social learning network has changed over the years as well.  With the major advances in cell phone technology, today, I am able to communicate with family and friends throughout the day utilizing the cell phone and the services that are included with it. Some of these services include text messaging, the ability to access the internet, and your email.  If I have to ask a friend or family member a question, I can send a text message or email and receive an answer back via a text message or email and we do not have speak to each other directly to get information.  I also utilize LinkedIn and Facebook, Internet Forums, etc. for social networking.

Finally, my professional learning network is constantly changing.  I learn from my colleagues, however, my colleagues change depending on my position and whether or not the organization structure changes in the company that I am employed with.  Currently, I work in IT and technology is always changing.  As a result, I am constantly learning new information to support the changes.  Years ago, I learned by reading technical manuals, attending face-to-face training classes, reading company documentation etc.  Today, information is changing so rapidly and I have to be able to make decisions quickly so I have to utilize on-line technical training and resources frequently.  This includes professional IT blogs, discussion boards and forums, the knowledge base for IT and the company in general, eLearning courses, SharePoint, webinars, google search, and wikis.

References:

Davis, C., Edmunds, E, & Kelley-Bateman, V.(2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.  Retreived from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Siemens, G. (2005).  Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.  International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm

 

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