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What is learning?

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Learning that is connected, socialised and shared

Does learning happen within the head of an individual, or is it mediated, situated and distributed?

Learning as an artefact is the potential informed or insightful response in an individual’s brain. Learning as a process includes the mechanisms of the brain and everything that person perceives around them – which must indirectly include everything they’ve laid down in their memory and how the subconscious responds to any of it.

What does a test or exam measure?

A test or exam can only be judged by how it is constructed and where and how it fits into a period of study – is the test part of the learning process or an assessment? Are the questions open or closed? Are their significant time constraints or not? So they should test what they were designed to test.

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13 E-learning theories

E-learning theories are not new theories, but rather e-enhancements of existing learning theories (Mayes and de Freitas, 2004).
They form “sets of beliefs: about the nature of knowledge and competence, about the purposes of learning, about how learning occurs, about how people should and should not be treated, etc” (Goodyear, 2001, p.51)
Consecutive learning theories don’t replace each other, but complement each other, each contributing its legacy to learning.  Theories can be considered as various levels of aggregation, with associative/behaviourist approaches addressing observable factors, cognitive approaches focusing on the ‘detailed structures and processes that underlie individual performance’ and situative approaches taking into account the social and cultural aspects of learning (Mayes and de Freitas, 2004).
Activity designs are usually a blend of different learning theories.  Being aware of the main learning theories helps building a consistent design and clarifying what type of learning and interaction is intended.
An example provided by Goodyear (2001): It is not uncommon to find some members of a team believing that learners are poor at  organizing themselves and learn best by being fed information in small amounts, while other members of the team want to promote active, student-managed learning.
 
The table below summarizes key concepts of different learning theories and their implications for online learning, taken from the publications from Anderson, Mayes and de Freitas and Goodyear.
Associative/ Behaviourist approaches
Design principles
Looking for observable behaviour
Explicitly mentioning course outcomes
Behavioural objectives
Ability to test achievement of learning outcomes
Instructional Systems Design (ISD)
Decomposing learning into small chunks
Routines of organised activity
Learning hierarchies (controversial!)
Sequencing learning materials with increasing complexity
Giving direct feedback on learning
Individualized learning trajectories
Cognitive psychology (constructivism)
Types of memory (sensory – short term – long term)
Maximize sensations: strategic screen layout
Research on memory, perception, reasoning, concept formation.
Maximize sensations: well-paced information
Learning is active
Maximize sensations: highlighting main elements
Learning is individual (knowledge construction)
Relate difficulty level to cognitive level of learner: providing links to easier and more advanced resources
Use of comparative advance organizers
Use of conceptual models
Importance of prior knowledge structures
Pre-instructional & prerequisite questions
Experimentation toward discovery of broad principles
Promote deep processing
Use of information maps zooming in/ out
Cognitive Apprenticeship (Brown et al, 1989)
Interactive environments for construction of understanding
Metacognition (reflection, self-regulation)
Relate to real-life (apply, analyse, synthesize)
Learning styles (controversial!)
Address various learning styles
Cognitive styles
Let students prepare a journal
Dual coding theory
Use both visual information and text
Motivate learners (ARCS model)
Use techniques to catch attention, explain relevance,  build confidence and increase satisfaction
Situated learning (constructivism)
Personal knowledge construction
Personal meaning to learning
Situated learning: motivation
Relate to real life (relevance)
Holistic/ Systemic approaches
Conduct research on internet
Build confidence with learners
Identity development
Use of first-hand information (not filtered by instructor)
Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger)
Collaborative activities
Fostering the growth of learning communities
Learning as act of participation
Legitimate (peripheral) practice, apprenticeships
Lifelong learning
Authentic learning and assessment tasks
Connectivism
Information explosion
Digital literacies
Learning in network environment
Keep up-to-date in field
Knowledge base
Multi-channel learning
Distributed learning
Build diversity, openness in learning (different opinions), autonomy
Personal Learning Environment
self-directed learning, just-in-time
Some comments on the table:
1. It’s difficult to draw sharp lines between these theories.  Some authors distinguish between cognitive constructivism (based on the work from Piaget) and social-cultural constructivism (based on the work from Vygotsky).  The work of Vygotsky formed the basis for the anthropological work from Jean Lave and the concept of ‘communities of practice’. The work of Engeström on activity theory forms a bridge between situative learning (with the activity system, it takes a more social unit of analysis than the individual) and constructivist approaches.
2 .Constructivism doesn’t really fit into the overview.  Goodyear (2001, p.75) mentions the following description of constructivism:
“…learning is a constructive process in which the learner is building an internal representation of knowledge, a personal interpretation of experience. This representation is constantly open to change, its structure and linkages forming the foundation to which other knowledge structures are appended….this view of knowledge does not necessarily deny the existence of the real world..but contends that all we know of the world are human interpretations of our experience of the world….learning must be situated in a rich context, reflective of real world contexts…” In other words, constructivism states that knowledge is relative and is different for every user.  Learning, in this position, means actively building a personal and contextualised interpretation of experience.

Constructivism – Jonassen et al 1999

Social Constructions – Vygotsky 1986

Activity Theory – Engeström et al 1999

Experiational Learning – Kolb 1984

Instructional Design – Gagné et al 2004

Networked and collaborative work – McConnell 2000

Learning Design Jochems et al 2004

 

Primary: presenting information

Secondary: active learning and feedback

Tertiary: dialogue and new learning.

References
Goodyear, P. (2001) Effective networked learning in higher education: notes and guidelines, Networked Learning in Higher Education Project (JCALT), Lancaster, CSALT, Lancaster University, [online] Available from:http://www.csalt.lancs.ac.uk/jisc/guidelines_final.doc(Accessed 28 May 2012)
Anderson, T. (ed.) (2008) The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, 2nd ed. Athabasca University Press.
Mayes, T. and de Freitas, S. (2004) Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models, Bristol, The Joint Information Systems Committee, [online] Available from:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Stage%202%20Learning%20Models%20%28Version%201%29.pdf(Accessed 28 May 2012).

Paper and pencil surveys vs. online surveys … and the ghost of Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams would have enjoyed the conundrums and shifts and highlighted the potential for farce and inaccuracy, while throwing up some universal truths about us human beings – we are chaotic, unstable and include contrarians amongst us. In particular I wonder about the sense that we have multiple and shifting personalities and behaviours which are in constant flux and either stabilised or destabilised by who we are and circumstances.
In 2001 a diary platform I used introduced surveys and they become an entertainment form both in how questions were posed and what they revealed about the person. As they were public and discussed it was clear that for some these were a performance of sorts and a long, long way from being valid, but often great stories and insightful the way good fiction can be. Adam Joinson talks of people easing off the surveys   – indeed, they are far too easy to create and more often than not these days are for ‘data mining’ rather than research. You know the genuine survey because of the volume of legalese and the ‘boring’ (though accurate) format of the survey itself. And they take time to fill in, rather than survey ‘quickies’ which are likely to be the first stage in a sales pitch.
Completing Job specs online are a kind of survey – it was and is so much easier simply to attach a CV, but few institutions now permit this. How therefore do we, the respondees, maintain control over what we are saying and how this data may be shared, revealed or used. Even the OU’s OLDS MOOC, only now long after it is over, have I read the last couple of paragraphs saying that the MOOC will be used for research purposes and that they cannot even guarantee that identities might be revealed. This therefore leads to bias in the way people self–select – those who do the surveys having an agenda, or wanting to have a voice, while a significant percentage of others won’t go near them (or even have a social presence online). Just because someone isn’t on Facebook or Linkedin doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
As for context, courtesy of the iPad, if I complete a survey and it is ‘fun’ to do then I am likely to be in the bath or on the loo. Or half asleep and in bed with a few minutes to kill before my wife emerges from her study and we both give up for the day. Mood impacts results. People could just as well fit these in while commuting into work – all this has to impact on mood and attitude and therefore the kind and quality of responses. This from someone who will vote red, blue, green or yellow depending on my ‘feelings’ that week.
Do the problems get ‘ironed out’ with sample size? 10,000 online responses compared to ‘100’ off the street for example?
My experience with medical market research is that different interviewers – crabby, old, blunt and plain compared to jolly, eager journalistic and young has a knock on effect all the way down the line – the nature and quality if the interview to start with – but this translates, literally, into the person who analyses these interviews – say 30/40 each an hour long. The scope for bias and inaccuracy increases – and is then reduced to a summary as no one has time to read the full report. (And even where commercial sponsorship of surveys is announced audiences of professional ar conferences, it has been shown, tune this information out – like warnings on cigarette packets).
On time , or late. Location. Kind of recording device. ‘Payment’. Rather the same avatar, rather like a SatNav?
Questionable when feedback or desire to communicate is presented as a survey – so moments after posting I find I have the response, ‘oh, that’s an  interesting concern, I’ll copy in, or make sure they know’.
I have from time to time just ran through a survey I felt obliged to do and given everything the top mark. Just before posting I see that the Likert scale has been inverted or turned around from time to time so I may be saying I thought X or Y was dreadful. I post anyway on the basis that it’ll be marked as an invalid paper but at least I have had the satisfaction of doing the thing and in some instances ‘getting it off my back’ having volunteered to take surveys every quarter from the local council.
As for humanity or humour some of the surveys and results in Viz Magazine or Private Eye say more about the human psyche and British humour than any formal survey can manage.
If anyone fancies a 27 part ‘dream survey’ I’ve had online let me know.
I’ll leave the kinds of things created at the frontiers of blogland circa 2001 to your imagination.

Learning is complex so is creating.

All observations are theory impregnated. Popper, (1996:86)

Learning can broadly be defined as ‘any process that in living organisms leads to permanent capacity change and which is not solely due to biological maturation or ageing (Illeris 2007, p.3)

Learning involves both internal and external factors. (Conole and Oliver, 20xx)

Human learning is the combination of processes throughout a lifetime whereby the whole person – body (genetic, physical and biological) and mind (knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions, beliefs and senses) – experiences social situations, the perceived content of which is then transformed cognitively, emotively or practically (or through any combination) and integrated into the individual person’s biography resulting in a continually changing (or more experienced) person.

(Illeris, in Contemporary Theories … 2009)

There are many different kinds of learning theory. Each emphasizes different aspects of learning, and each is therefore useful for different purposes. (Conole and Oliver, ) What matters in learning and the nature of knowledge. And how families develop their own practices, routines, rituals, artifacts, symbols, conventions, stories and histories. (Conole and Oliver, )

Identify the key components of a number of theoretical approaches. Briefly introduce, say what it is and highlight key concepts.

How these might be applied to learning design with technology.

Clear RQs that are clearly derived from specific theories.

Recommend which data collection processes would be appropriate.

Conole et al (2004) x 7: Behaviourism, Cognitive, Constructivism, Activity-based, socially situated learning, experiential and systems theory.

Cube Representation of model. (Should be those things you roll) ADD OLDS MOOC and/or H817open

Mayes and de Frietas (2004) x3 Associative (structured tasks), cognitive (understanding) and situative.

Beetham (2005) x4: Associative, cognitive constructivist, social constructivist, situative.

See x4 Learning Theories Mind Map

Edudemic (2013) x 4 behaviourist, cognitive, constructive and connectivism

Traditional Learning Theories

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

Etienne Wenger (2007 in Knud Illeris) x9: organizational, neurophysiological, behaviourist, cognitive, activity theories, communities of practice, social learning, socialisational, constructivist.

Community of Practice and Community of Interests

‘Practitioners and overwhelmed by the plethora of choices and may lack the necessary skills to make informed choices about how to use these theories’. (Conole and Oliver 20xx)

Behaviourism A perspective on learning (Skinner, 1950) reinforce/diminish. Stimulus/response. Aristotle. Hume. Pavlov. Ebbinghaus.
Cognitivism Kant, Gagne, Rumlehart & Newman.
Activity Theory Builds on the work of Vygotsky (1986). Learning as a social activity. All human action is mediated through using tools. In the context of a community. Knotworking. Runaway object. Useful for analysing why problems have occurred – discordance. See Greenhow and Belbas for RQs.
Constructivism Engestrom, Soctrates, Brown, Bruner, Illich,
Connectivism Bush, Wells, Berners-Lee.
Humanism Leonard (500 Theories)

Learning Theories from Wenger and others applied to OLDS MOOC

Organizational, Neurophsiological, Behaviourist, Cogntive, Resistence to or defence learning, activity theory, communities of practice, accommodation learning, social learning, transformative learning, socializational, constructivist.

Conole x6 pairings diagram

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Formulate clear questions.

Amplification (Cole and Griffin) Amplifying as an increase in output – give a hunter a gun and they kill more prey. Give someone a computer and they write and calculate more. ‘Technology is best understood not as a static influence on literacy practice, but as a dynamic contributor to it’.

Learning and teaching: Behaviourism x3, cognitive theories x10 (including constructivism), humanisitc approaches, and others.

RQ

Quality not quantity

How these depend on the theoretical approach.

Strengths and Limitations

S – Situation, interactions, mechanisms can be more or less collaborative (Dillenbourg, 1999:9). Knowledge always undergoes construction and transformation in use. Learning is an integral aspect of activity. (Conole and Oliver, 2005). Communication is learning.
W – Across cultures, not just US and West. Caricatures/simplistic. Not a neat narrative.
O – Donations, Funding, Book promotion (MIT). The learner as a unique person.
T – Funding

REFERENCE

Conole (2007)

Conole, G; and Oliver, M. (eds) (20xx) Contemporary Perspective in E-learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.

Crook, C and Dymott, R (20xx) ICT and the literacy practices of student writing. a

Edudemic. Traditional Learning Theories. (Accessed 19th April 2013)

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

Greenhow, C and Belbas, B (20xx:374)

Every bit of you contributes to your learning experience

20130420-071339.jpg

When it comes to learning, everything matters – epecially the tips of your toes.

‘Human learning is the combination of processes throughout a lifetime whereby the whole person – body (genetic, physical and biological) and mind (knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions, beliefs and senses) – experiences social situations, the perceived content of which is then transformed cognitively, emotively or practically (or through any combination) and integrated into the individual person’s biography resulting in a continually changing (or more experienced) person’. Knud Illiris (2009:24)

In 1980 I worked the winter season in a Hotel in the French Alps. It was a 13 hour working day that started at 6.00am and included three hours off over lunch – 12h00 to 15h00. That’s when I went skiing – in all weather. That season, like this, had an abundance of ‘weather’ with more snow than even Val d’Isere could cope with. An avalanche took out an entire mountain restaurant … or rather burried them. They were fine and re-opened after a few weeks. Towards the end of the season I would shot up the slopes, in my M&S suit, with a plasticated boiler-suit like thing over it and skied the same run maybe 11 or 12 times before returning to the hotel and an afternoon/evening of carrying bags, digging cars out, taking trays of food, cleaning and translating French to English for the Hotel Manager. I had a Sony Walkman cassette player. I played Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’ and skied to ‘The Wall’.

33 years on, using the same skis if I want, the music on an iPhone, I manage three to five turns at a time … rest … three to five more turns … rest … three to five turns and take a suck on my Ventolin inhaler …. and so on.

And what comes to mind?

‘The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire’ Gibbon and Alexis de Tocqueville ‘L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution’ – both required reading before I started my undergraduate year of History later in 1981.

These are the games the brains plays on you. I can now of course recall Madame Raymond, the Hotel Manger, The Sofitel, Val d’Isere and Christian, the waiter who taught me to ski … and the word for dust ‘poussiere’.

And while up here 33 years later I have so far got through three books:

‘The A to Z of Learning Theory’ (2002), David Leonard; ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research’ eds. Grainne Conole and Martin Oliver and ‘Contemporary Theories of Learning’ edited by Knud Illeris (2009) … from which I drew the above quote. The first covers some 150 learning theories – by the time you’ve finished it you may conclude that there is life and learning while death brings it to the end. As Illiris states, everything counts. The second is one of those academic compillations of papers. The title is disengenious as I could not find in ONE single paper (chapter) any attempts to give a perspective on e-learning research, rather these are papers on e-learning. Period. While the Knud Illiris edited book does the business with some great chapters from him, from Etienne Wenger and Yrjo Engestrom. So one is the K-Tel compilation from Woolworths, while the latter is ‘Now E-Learning’.

As it is still snowing I may have to download another book.

20130420-081848.jpg

When I think if learning, I think of the minuscule intricacies of the component parts of the brain and at the same time the immense vastness of the known universe.

As humans we are eager to understand everything.

It seems appropriate to marry neuroscience with astrophysics, like brackets that enclose everything. From a learning point of view then ask as you look at a person or group of people, ‘what is going on?’ specifically, ‘what is going on in there? (the brains) and between them to foster insight, understanding, innovation and advancement.

The best interface for this, a confluence for it all, is the Internet and the connectedness of it all.

What has the impact of the Internet been and based on everything we currently know, where do we presume it is going?

What will the impact be of the Web on education? How is knowledge sharing and learning changing?

Fig. 1. Father and daughter

From four or five months after conception with the formation of the brain, to the moment of brain death we have the capacity to learn, subconsciously as well as consciously.

Whether through interlopers before birth, in infancy and early childhood, or through family and carers in our last moment, days, weeks, months or years. At both ends of life the Web through a myriad of ways can advise, suggest and inform, and so educate, like never before. While for all the time in between as sponges, participants and students we can access, interact, interpose and interject in an environment where everything that is known and has been understood is presented to us. The interface between person and this Web of knowledge is a fascinating one that deserves close study for its potentially profound impact on what we as humans can do as people and collectively:  Individually through, by, with and surfing the established and privileged formal and formal conveyor belt of education through nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary centres of learning. Individually, also through expanding opportunities globally to learn unfettered by such formal education where such established opportunities don’t exist unless hindered through poverty and politics or a lack of communications infrastructure (a robust broadband connection to the Web). And individually and collectively alongside or beyond whatever formal education is provided or exploited by finger tapping into close and expanded networks of people, materials, ideas and activities

Open learning comes of age.

By seeking to peg answers to the role the Web is starting to play, at one end to the very first opportunity, at the micro-biological level to form a thought and at the other end to those micro-seconds at the end of life once the brain ceases to function – and everything else in between, requires an understandings neuroscience and an answer to the question ‘what is going on in there?’ How do we learn?

From an anthropological perspective why and how do we learn?

Where can we identify the origins of knowledge sharing and its role in the survival and domination of homo sapiens? And from our migration from the savannas of Eastern Africa to every nook and cranny of Earth, on land and sea, what recognised societal behaviours are playing out online? And are these behaviours mimicked or to a lesser extent transmogrified, warped or elevated by the scope, scale and speed of being connected to so much in such variety?

A history of learning is required.

From our innate conscious and subconscious capacity to learn from our immediate family and community how has formal education formed right the way through adding reading, writing and numeracy as a foundation to subject choices and specialisms, so momentarily expanded in secondary education into the single subjects studied at undergraduate level and the niche within a niche at Masters and doctoral levels. And what role has and will formal and informal learning continue to have, at work and play if increasing numbers of people globally have a school or university in their pockets, courtesy of a smartphone or tablet and a connection to the Web?

The global village Marshall McLuhan described is now, for the person connected to the Web, the global digital fireplace.

It has that ability to gather people around. Where though are its limits? With how many people can we develop and maintain a relationship? Once again, how can an understanding of social networks on the ground inform us about those that form on the Web? Multiplicity reins for some, flitting between a variety of groups while others have their niche interests indulged, celebrated and reinforced. Is there an identifiable geography of such hubs small and large and if visualised what does this tell us? Are the ways we can now learn new or old?

In relation to one aspect of education – medicine – how are we informed and how do we respond as patients and clinicians?

The journey starts at conception with the mixing of DNA and ends once the last electrochemical spark has fired. How, in relation to medicine does the quality (or lack of), scale and variety of information available on the Web inform and impact upon our ideas and actions the length of this lifetime’s journey At one end, parents making decisions regarding having children, then knowledge of pregnancy and foetal development. While at the other end, a child takes part in the decision-making process with clinicians and potentially the patient – to ‘call it a day’. Both the patient or person, as participant and the clinicians as interlocutors have, potentially, the same level of information at their fingertips courtesy of the Web.

How is this relationship and the outcomes altered where the patient will know more about their own health and a good deal about a clinician’s specialism?

The relationship between the doctor and patient, like others, courtesy of the connectivity and capacity of the Web, has changed – transmogrified, melted and flipped all at the same time. It is no longer them and us, though it can be – rather, as in education and other fields, it can be highly personalized and close.

Can clinicians be many things to many people?

Can any or only some of us cope with such multiplicity? A psychologist may say some will and some won’t, some have the nature for it, others not. Ditto in education. Trained to lead a classroom in a domain of their own, can a teacher take on multiple roles aimed at responding to the unique as well as the common traits of each of their students? While in tertiary education should and can academics continue to be, or expected to be undertake research as well as teach? Where teaching might be more akin to broadcasting, and the classroom or tutorial takes place asynchronously and online as well as live and face-to-face.

Disaggregation equals change.

In relation to one aspect of education in medicine and one kind of problem, what role might the Web play to support patients so that they can make an informed decision regarding the taking of potentially life saving, if not simply life improving, medications? Having understood the complexity of reasons why having been prescribed a preventer medication, for example, to reduce or even eliminate the risk of a serious asthma attack, what is going on where a patient elects, sometimes belligerently, not to take the medication. Others are forgetful, some misinformed, for others it is the cost, or the palaver of ordering, collecting and paying for repeat prescriptions. Information alone isn’t enough, but given the capacity of the web to brief a person on an individual basis, where they are online, what can be done to improve adherence, save lives and enhance the quality of life?

My hypothesis is that a patient can be assisted by an artificial companion of some kind, that is responsive to the person’s vicissitudes while metaphorically sitting on that person’s shoulder i.e. in the ‘Cloud’ and on their smartphone, tablet, headset, laptop or whatever other assistive interface will exist between us and the Web.

 

Fig. 2. Where it ends … more or less

At a parent’s side when they die is a profound experience. The breathing stopped and a trillion memories drained away. To what degree will this no longer be the case when a life logged digitally becomes a life in part preserved?

 

70,000 years ago we were getting something right in relation to learning and responding to circumstances and left Africa.

We have been learning in communities ever since.

Perhaps population pressures or stability permitted reading and our inexorable desire to innovate led to the printing press and more since besides. Meanwhile populations and civilizations grew and society required or permitted the development of formal learning.

For me all the learning theories are observations of human behaviour as individuals or in groups.

Open learning is if anything taking us back to learning on the fly, in more vibrant less formal communities online. A response to the necessity of educating 7 billion and solving many of the human created problems on this dot in space called Earth.

I rather think the theories come AFTER the event to philosophise over what is taking place – in a commercial and entrepreneurial world you get on with it.

Take virtual worlds – they are commercial gaming and entertainment environments which educators would like to use and as they use them explain, position and justify.

  • All I want to know is, does it work?
  • Is it affordable?
  • Is it scaleable?
  • Is it going anywhere?
  • If not ditch it snd try something else.

 

A ‘conversational approach’ to learning

Conversational Approach (Laurillard, 2002) This looks at the on-going learner-teacher interaction, and at the process of negotiation of views of the subject-matter which takes place between them in such a way as to modify the learner’s perceptions. From this she develops a set of criteria for the judgement of teaching/learning systems, particularly those based on educational technology.

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html

http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/pask.html

http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

 

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