As I reflect on this eight-week course, what I found surprising as I further my knowledge about how people learn is the fact that there is not one learning theory that best describes how people learn. Depending on the subject, facilitator, and learning environment individual’s behavior changes and it can have a positive or negative impact on learning. As an instructional designer I can increase the quality of learning, meet the needs of each learner by knowing their characteristics and learning style, and applying a variety of learning theories, learning strategies, and integrating technology to make learning meaningful and engaging.
Another thing I found surprising as I further my knowledge about how people learn was applying John Keller’s ARCS model. Keller (1999) identifies four basic elements of motivation known as attention (A), relevance (R), confidence (C), and satisfaction (S), or ARCS (p. 39). This was a new profound knowledge for me and another strategic tool that I have added to my instructional design toolbox. In week 8 we were tasked with a scenario based on facilitators of an online course reporting that students demonstrated a lack of motivation to participate in and complete the course. Most students choose an online learning environment because of the flexibility and convenience and for personal or professional development. Learning requires motivation. I was able to identify several motivational factors and outlined a plan using the ARCS model to improve attrition and motivation in the online course.
This course has deepened my understanding of my own personal learning process. With a deeper understanding of the different learning styles and learning theories, my view on how I learn has changed. I enjoy a mix of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles and I use a combination of learning theories. As an instructional designer it is important to have a basic understanding of the different learning styles and learning theories. With this knowledge, I can instruct and design training programs using different components (methodologies) of learning with the right instructional architecture. Learning is socially shared cognition that is a process of becoming a member of a sustained community of practice; social interaction that constructs and reconstructs contexts, knowledge, and meanings (Ormrod, Schunk, Gredler, 2009, p. 19).
What I have learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation is when effectively combined and implemented, learning is engaging and motivating for students. As an instructional designer it is impossible to tailor instruction to facilitate each student’s needs. It is essential that I know my target audience and design courses with them in mind. As an instructional designer with an understanding about the connections between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and effectively applying these elements to improve the learning environment and the learning activity, these elements will not work if students are not motivated. According to Ormrod, Schunk, Gredler (2009), many factors are likely to influence student’s motivation (p. 224).
What I am taking away from this course that will help me further my career as an instructional designer is the fact that everyone one learns differently. As I continue developing online training programs I will ensure the course materials are designed effectively to engage the learner, promote learning, and apply sound instructional design principles to make learning relevant and meaningful for the target audience. On the job I will effectively use different technology strategies in the delivery of instruction. I will also continue to help people learn by paying special attention to the struggles that students have in an online learning environment. According to Dr. Ormrod (n.d.), there are a variety of basic needs that people have. Some of them are basic survival things. You need food, you need water, and you need to stay warm, and so on. But some of them are psychological needs. The psychological needs have implications for motivation. Dr. Ormrod illustrates four in particular that have direct relevance for an instructional designer.
Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Motivation in learning [Video file]. Retrieved from class.waldenu.edu
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.