Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Connectivism: Mapping Learning Connections

Over the last two decades the networks I rely on to facilitate learning have changed greatly. The learning connections that I have constructed through different networks has changed as a result of advancing technology and has varied based upon the context in which learning has occurred. While constructing my learning map I noted that I heavily rely on knowledge obtained through a technologically enhanced method whereas in more the distant past I would have sought out knowledge through other methods such as trip to the library to collect information from books, articles, or journals. Although I still seek out knowledge from books, articles, journals, social networks, professional networks, and academic networks the means or methods in which I retrieve information from these learning connections has vastly changed.
            Siemens discusses one of the principle ideas of connectivism being the use of technology as our starting point for connecting with people or data (Laureate, 2009). The primary method for accessing information in my learning connections begins often times with the use of technology. In my professional networks I have access to online resource guides, webinars, or trainings that facilitate my learning. I telecommute fulltime for my job so when reaching out to my colleagues or leadership this is often done through e-mail communications or the use our organization’s online instant messaging software. In my academic networks I utilize course resources that are primarily accessed online to read and gain knowledge from various articles, journals, blogs, eBooks, and other media. When I have questions I utilize the online forums that are available to me to reach out to my fellow classmates or professor. My learning is also enhanced through the online discussions that take place. The ability to access learning through these methods academically have allowed for greater ease in gaining knowledge through diverse opinions which is another principle to connectivism (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman, 2008).  The method in which I connect to my social networks still uses telephone or face-to-face communication, but with greater access to enhanced technology I am able to communicate more readily with individuals that I am not able to access in person or via the telephone. I utilize my social networks to facilitate learning through reviewing papers or projects that I have completed to provide feedback. I also engage in discussions with my social networks that broaden my knowledge or prompt me to look further into a particular subject.
            As I reflected on mapping my learning connections and began to realize how frequently I access knowledge through the use of technology. I also began to realize how reliant I have become on internet resources more specifically on Google as my starting point for acquiring additional information. Whether in my professional, social, or academic life, Google dominates where I will go to seek out additional information and learn more on a particular subject. The Google search engine is the first point I access when I have a question to locate websites or video tutorials where I can review the information, connect the new knowledge to my existing knowledge and experiences, and formulate a solution to a problem or create more meaningful learning through reflecting on the new information. I also use Google to search for scholarly articles and create documents to share knowledge with others in my learning networks.
            My learning connections support some of the main principles identified in connectivism. The idea that learning resides in having access to diverse opinions is clearly seen through accessing different blogs, articles, using Google, and discussing with different people from different networks (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman, 2008). Additionally the capacity to know more than what is already known is evident in my pursuit of additional information and inquiry through different sources (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman, 2008). The connections between the different networks that I have for learning are sometimes not linear, but despite the complexity the connections do come together to facilitate overall meaningful learning for me.

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.),
Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 26,
2012 from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009) Connectivism [Video webcast] [with George
Siemens] Retrieved from Walden University.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Information Processing

What is it?
Information processing is a cognitive learning theory that takes an approach to examining learning through how information is processed (Orey, 2001). Through information processing we are able to gain a better understanding of how we process knowledge and can therefore develop strategies to overcome challenges that learners face when processing information.

"Information Processing Theory" by Gregory Schraw and Matthew McCrudden provides an informative and clear overview of the information processing theory. It provides a detailed explanation of the components included in this learning theory as well as information on how the theory can be applied in developing a more successful learning experience which I found of particular importance. The article describes four key pieces of information to take into consideration when applying the information processing theory to a learning experience including limiting sensory and working memories of the learner, relevant prior knowledge of the leaner, automated information processing, and the use of learning strategies (Schraw & McCrudden, 2009). Overall the article provides the reader an opportunity explore and gain background knowledge on information processing while also prompting the reader to further examine how they can practically apply some of the knowledge in improving instruction.   

Orey, M. (2001). Information processing. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning,
teaching, and technology. . Retrieved November 5, 2012 from

Schraw, G., & McCrudden, M. (2009). Information processing theory.  Retrieved November 9,
2012 from .

Information Processing and Cognitive Theory in Instructional Design
The cognitive information processing theory explains that information is processed through different sensory registers and that information can be processed through the senses either separately or simultaneously (Laureate, 2009).  Instructional designers need to consider the different senses and modes of learning when developing or designing a meaningful learning experience. The designer must consider which combination of senses will be most effective in promoting effective retention of knowledge (Moreno & Mayer, 2000).

The paper by Moreno and Mayer presents information on studies that were conducted with regard to considering the modes in which individuals learn when designing multimedia presentations. The information from the studies as presented in the paper argues that students learn best when materials do not require the learner to split their attention (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). This is not to say that the authors disagree with the idea that learners process information more effectively when presented in multiple formats. I found the information presented by the authors to be beneficial and something to take into consideration when creating multimedia presentations. It presents the idea that I should be aware of promoting meaningful learning through presenting materials in multiple modes that are well organized and do not contain additional unnecessary verbal or nonverbal information.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations:
Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive multimedia
electronic journal of computer-enhanced learning, 2(2), 12-20. 
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate
custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Enhancing Knowledge Through Cognitive Tools
The cognitive information processing theory provides an understanding of how the learner thinks and can be practically applied when attempting to create more successful learning experience where the learner is actively engaged with their own thinking. Dr. Ormrod emphasizes the importance of metacognition when processing information so that the learner can monitor their own learning (Laureate, 2009). To enhance knowledge and the ability for the learner to achieve a higher level of thinking, cognitive tools can be employed by the designer of a learning experience.

The author of “What are Cognitive Tools” describes cognitive tools as supporting the learners ability to be apply meaning to information and take a more active and reflective role in their own learning process (Jonassen, 1992). The article refers to cognitive tools as being both mental and technological. It points out that the learner does not learn directly from the devices that are used to communicate knowledge, but rather processing of information or learning requires thinking by the learner. I found this article valuable in highlighting how it is important to understand how to incorporate learning strategies within the learning experience as well as how to effectively use cognitive tools to support metacognition for the learner.  The article provides a good starting point for understanding the how cognitive tools can be useful to the learner and has compelled me to look further into use of cognitive tools which led to reviewing additional resources including “Cognitive Tools” by Elliot, Robertson, and Robinson.

“Cognitive Tools” provided further exploration of the use of cognitive tools in learning. The article provides additional background information and a clear description of the roles that cognitive tools play in learning. Cognitive tool roles are described as information seeking, presenting of information, organization of information, connecting information to previous knowledge, and representation of knowledge in a meaningful format (Elliot, Robertson, & Robinson, 2007).  Examples are provided for each role along with a scenario or case study so that reader can have a deeper understanding of each role. The article additionally highlights the advantages and challenges of utilizing cognitive learning tools and successful provides implications for the reader to consider for practical application and use of cognitive learning tools in their own classroom.
Elliot, L., Robertson, B., & Robinson, D., (2007). Cognitive tools. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging
perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 9, 2012 from

Jonassen, D. H. (1992). What are cognitive tools. Cognitive tools for learning, 81, 1-6.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009b) Information Processing and Problem Solving
[Video webcast] [with Dr. Jeanne Ormrod] Retrieved from Walden University.