Modern Learning: It’s All About “We”

October 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

About seven weeks ago, I started a learning theory class that opened with the question, “how do you learn best?” When presented with a question like this, there is, perhaps, a natural tendency to think about theories that focus on behavioral or cognitive processes for coding and storing information. At least for me there was. However, this view of how I learn has evolved. Learning theories that focus on how on how an individual student learns seem to only paint part of the picture. The reality for me is that a large part of my learning takes place outside of formal educational experiences, and are social in nature. In other words, I’m learning on the job and in collaboration with others. This type of learning tends to be explained by theories such as social learning theory which views learning as a social process in which knowledge is constructed from shared understanding among groups of people engaged in collaborative activities (Kim, 2001). If I’m trying to solve a problem at work, I collect information, I have teammates who contribute information, and we work together to develop and test a solution. Our success or failure does not depend on an individual’s knowledge or skills, but on the ability of the group to work together effectively. Another learning theory that attempts to address the collaborative nature of learning is connectivism, which considers how people connect nodes of information. When knowledge is constantly shifting and evolving, the ability to build and maintain links to sources of information is key to learning (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). Clearly, technology plays a large role in developing and maintaining these networks. It provides ways to search for information, organize data, connect with others, learn new skills and share ideas. It also makes information readily available, almost wherever you go. This means that a person doesn’t have to enroll in a course and go to class to learn. Instead, it can occur when and where a person needs it. As a learner, I need to understand how to access this information, assess its credibility and determine when my needs have been met. So when thinking about my learning styles, I might begin with strategies that address my individual preferences for how information is organized and presented, but I would also include strategies that improve my ability to work collaboratively with others, locate and analyze information, and strengthen the links in my personal learning network.

 

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. Retrieved 10 01, 2010, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

 

Kim, B. (2001). Social Constructivism. Retrieved 9 26, 2010, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Social_Constructivism

 

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