Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Philosophy of learning

           My learning philosophy is informed by the various learning theories I have studied.  I believe each theory has something to offer teachers as they endeavor to meet the learning needs of students.  Examples include the behaviorist’s drill and practice and chaining, the cognitivist’s rehearsal and chunking processes, the constructivists’ experiential learning experiences (Driscoll, 2005) or the connectivists’ networked learning (Siemens, 2008).  Teachers should locate, explore and practice innovative ways to meet the needs of learners, to inspire and motivate a desire to learn in any environment whether face to face or online.  While teachers should be conscious of students learning styles, they should teach not only to their strengths but also challenge them to learn in other ways as well since this will help develop well rounded individuals.  The teaching learning process should be learner centered and provide opportunities for learners’ active involvement with the environment and collaboration with others.  The learning environment should authenticate the everyday problem solving information seeking context in which the learner is able to build and expand their personal information network.  Teachers should be flexible, engaging students and embracing their ever changing roles (Siemens, 2008).

          It is critical that today’s learning environment allow the student to slip seamlessly from an everyday classroom into the digital world.  I believe that student’s should be comfortable in both spaces as teachers allow students to explore beyond the classroom.   I believe that a caring supportive environment should be established whether online or face to face.  I believe that the teaching/learning process is not only top down but also bottom up, that it is an interactive, collaborative process through which both teachers and pupils are changed.  While I do not embrace connectivism as the sole learning theory for this era I agree with Siemens (2006) that learning is not strictly linear but the learner now has the opportunity to learn beyond the bounds of the classroom.  I believe that one of the purposes of teaching/learning is to stimulate inquiring minds and develop independent, self-directed, life-long learners.  All of this I believe is critical and non-negotiable if we are to develop twenty-first century citizens.

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. A Creative Commons licensed version, Retrieved from  
Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Retrieved from

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Technologies in the Workplace

Attitudes to computer use
When I was first introduced to the computer in the early 1990’s I refused to use it.  Accustomed to using the typewriter it was as if I was being asked to jump off a cliff.  No one had volunteered to teach me or give me an easy lead in to it.  Students were given the option to either type or word process their essays.  Of course I continued using the typewriter.  When automating the workplace my experience was foremost in my mind.   It was decided that the best approach would be to teach staff basic computer skills.  Those who were reluctant to participate in the training program proffered several reasons including the following:

1.       My religion does not allow me to use computers.
2.       I am too old to learn to use computers.
3.       I might touch something and damage the computer.
4.       I have never used a computer and I am afraid.

The apprehension and fear of the technology was clear.  What can a trainer do to motivate prospective learners like these?  Keller developed a sequential motivational framework (Driscoll, 2005) that can inform instructional design processes.  These motivational steps can be followed to help learners achieve success: Gain and sustain learner’s attention, make the content relevant to the learner, build the learner’s confidence, and generate their satisfaction.

To gain and maintain student’s curiosity.  I would share my personal experience and apprehensions about computer use with them.  To maintain their attention I would vary the practical exercises used in each lesson and vary the methods used throughout the course.

Enhancing relevance
Learners must feel that there is something in the lesson for them.  This must be a personal appeal that will stimulate a desire to learn the material being presented.  I would therefore give reasons why it is important for them to learn to use the computers.  These reasons would not only include its applicability in the workplace but how this knowledge and skill can benefit them personally.  Tie learning to use the computer to their need to serve clients well and show how they can then teach clients the skills they have acquired.    

Building confidence
Explain to students what will be expected of them at the beginning of each lesson.  Driscoll (2005) equates fear of failure with fear of the unknown and suggests that clarifying manageable objectives would help to alleviate fear.  Provide opportunities for practice and match tasks to students’ abilities.  As students advance in the course allow for their control of the learning process.  For example, give them several options for practice and assessment.  Also have them suggest additional learning experiences.   

Generating satisfaction
Ensure learner satisfaction through application of the three categories of strategies proposed by Keller (Driscoll, 2005).  They are natural consequences, positive consequences and equity.  Trainees can practice using the automated loan system, the library’s online database and inputting cataloging data.  The positive consequence component will be met since the basic computer skills course is built in to the organization’s library assistants’ training program.  At the end of the course trainees will receive a certificate and satisfactory completion of the training program will lead to promotion and change in remuneration.  Consistent standards will be set and maintained throughout the course to ensure equity, since learners must feel that they are being treated fairly (Driscoll, 2005)

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.