When I started researching about learning theories, I noticed that constructivism was the learning theory that was more aligned to the learning approach that I consider more effective, due to the fact that in constructivism the learning process is an active construction of knowledge where the learner is building the knowledge and the instructor has the role of supporting the process by creating an environment in which that construction takes place (Brandon, 2004).
I still support that initial idea. However, after studying different learning theories I think it is important to incorporate in my learning experiences strategies and ideas from other theories such as social learning theory.
In social learning theory an individual acquires knowledge through engagement in social activities. Knowledge acquisition is not a stand-alone entity, but is constructed over time through social engagement and ongoing discourses within cultural contexts and value systems (Nguyen, 2013). Based on that, I can now see the real value of social interactions in my own learning process. I experience a more effective learning when I am in instructional settings where I can discuss with peers about a subject and when I can relate or simply understand the different points of views around the topic of study. According to Dr. Ormrod (n.d.), in social learning environments, an individual learns from other people and internalizes the arguing process product of that social interaction.
Social learning environments encourage me to participate more in discussion forums, I elaborate more knowledge because I engage in a more sophisticated way of thinking where I can see a particular problem or topic from different perspectives. Additionally, sharing experiences, real world examples, and ideas with others offer me more opportunities to reflect on the content of the course and to be part of a community of professionals with the same interests.
On the other hand, when it comes to learning styles, initially I thought visual and kinesthetic methodologies used in instructional experiences were the best fit for me. However, I now support more the idea that the learning process is complex and learners cannot be categorized into one specific learning style that could potentially limit the learning process and establish unnecessary boundaries for the learner. Instead, I believe that instructional designers and educators in general should consider different strategies when designing learning experiences to accommodate a diversity of methods. Therefore there will be a rich learning environment for learners, offering options to explore content in different ways while promoting engagement and motivation from learners towards the learning experience.
I now prefer for my own learning experience to build knowledge using different styles depending on the content. I now find more value in exploring the information using different methodologies such as reading resources, using audiovisuals, diagrams, interactive activities, real world practices, simulations, or even games.
As seen in my learning network map (previous post), technology plays an important role to support my own learning process. I use technology to access information such as library data bases, videos on Youtube, tutorials on Lynda.com, search engines, podcasts, blogs, online magazines, and TED Talks. I also use technology to create my own reflections on a topic like this blog, and to share ideas in professional communities using social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).
Technology not only offers me tools to facilitate my own learning process but also provides mechanisms to create content in different ways, supporting a variety of methods and helping me create a rich and diverse learning environment.
Brandon, B. (2004). How do people learn? Some new ideas for e-learning designers. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/301/how-do-people-learn-some-new-ideas-for-e-learning-designers
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Theory of Social Cognitive Development [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Nguyen, T. (2013). Understanding different learning theories for technology integration. Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2013. Retrieved from www.editlib.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/p/112123