Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Humanism as a theory of learning

Interesting...I guess this was under my nose all along, but never really deeply considered. If we consider that a learning theory (Humanism) drives a particular practice of developing and delivering teaching and learning (androgogy), then there's a clear linkage from Maslow and Rogers' self-actualization to Knowles' precepts of adult learning theory.

Then again, one recent reconceptualization of Maslow's hierarchy replaces self-actualization with parenting. Seriously. (New York Times Magazine, Sept. 10, 2010).

Week 4: are we there yet? Is there a "there" there?

I realize that as a learning journal this blog falls woefully short, both in terms of content and frequency. I'm finding that trying to wrap my head around a "course" in which there really are no stated learning outcomes, a laundry list of "suggested readings" each week, and really no structured assessment activities sort of gives me the willies, to be frank. Which leads us to:

Week 4: Learning Theories

Ah, at last! Something I can relate to! Good ol' learning theory. Uhm, theories. What? There's no universally accepted doctrine of how humans learn?

In the days of Highfather Gagne, there was Behaviorism. And it was Good. And it went forth and procreated with Systems Theory, and generation after generation of Dick and Carey progeny sprung forth to design "systems models" that are fun to draw if you love flow charts, but generally only characterize *the process of instructional design and development*, not any intrinsic or extrinsic elicted behaviors regarded as "learning". But I have really wonderful ISD process books on my shelf (D&C, Briggs and Wager, the impenetrable Romizsowski) that look impressive for faculty visitors, but haven't been opened since 1996 (if then).

Then came the dark angel, the fallen son - constructivism. A shot across the bow to the lock step Skinnerian precepts of "trad" ID. At that time (ca. 1995-96) it seemed that a schism had erupted in ID Land, that the theses had been pounded into the cathedral door, and that the heretics would be cast out...

...but it turns out that D. Jonassen is, in person, really a fairly boring public speaker (Madison WI, e-learning conference, somewhere in the 90's). And it turns out that, personally speaking, the above named constructs really exist as opposite points on a continuum, and that certain disciplines cuddle up nicely to a behaviorist/empiricist approach (math, life sciences) while others are more open to personal interpretration and shared meaning making (philosophy).

Somewhere or other, I ran across a Ph.D candidate's study on instructional designer beliefs, measuring ontology and epistemology (if I can find this again, I'll repost here). Not surprisingly, most of my answers really translate to "it depends'.

Then we have connectivism, as espoused by George Siemens, which, honestly, I'll have to re-read yet again and see if I grok it. Networked learning, I guess...

Pedagogy? Androgogy? Heutagogy? Instructivism? I love that last one - it really does nothing more than point out that online learning via an LMS is really about command and control for the instructor, not learner affordances.

Big Laundry List O' Theories: http://www.emtech.net/learning_theories.htm

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adventures in Massively Online Learning

This blog will serve as my learning journal, and collection du jour of resources related to PLENK2010, which is an open education online course that serves as an entry point into examining and using PLEs (personal learning environments )and PLKs (personal knowledge networks).

But first, a few confessions about me:

  • an instructional designer by profession, I believe I'm a pretty lousy online learner. Why? I tend to wander off the path fairly easy, particularly if there isn't a well defined set of bread crumbs to lead me safely through the woods.

  • far from a technophobe, but I have comfort in using tools that I'm familiar with. Throw me into a Moodle course, as in this case, and I tend to go "what the..?". It isn't that Moodle is any better or worse at structuring learning experiences, it just doesn't feel right. Sort of like driving a friend's car - you can get it out the driveway ok, but adjusting the A/C, fiddling with the radio, and oh yes, eyes on the road...well, it's a bit of a challenge.

  • lastly, I struggled a bit with how in the world could you form a successful learning cohort from 1,000 strangers. Then I thought a bit about one of my hobbies: collaboratively facilitating a listserv for living history (that happens to have 2,000 plus subscribers). Obviously, none of us knows all the members personally, nor do we ever engage simultaneously at full scale. Rather, cohorts fall along natural groupings such as:
  1. affiliation with a given unit (local structure)
  2. affiliation with others from a given geographic region (regional/local structure)
  3. affiliation with those of simliar research interests
  4. affiliation with those who happen to know you because "hey, you're the guy from Revlist". Yes, indeed I am...