This past couple of weeks have provided a useful review of the various learning theories: Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Humanism, Constructivism, and the relatively new Connectivism. While I feel that the Constructivist Learning Theory best aligns with my beliefs and experiences, I have taken this opportunity to note many key thoughts from all the theories to support successful online resources and activities in the Living Successfully with Hearing Loss online course. This post will serve as a resource before I begin my next course.
Ally (2008) claims “Under a close analysis of the behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist schools of thought, many overlaps in the ideas and principles become apparent. The design of online learning materials can include principles from all three schools of thought. Behaviorists’ strategies can be used to teach the what (facts); cognitive strategies can be used to teach the how (processes and principles), and constructivist strategies can be used to teach the why (higher-level thinking that promotes personal meaning and situated and contextual learning).” See below for the highlights I took away from Ally (2008) and how I can carry that lesson to my online course:
|What the theory recommends
||What I will do and why
|Learners should be told the explicit outcomes of the learning so they can set expectations and judge for themselves whether or not they have achieved the outcome of the online lesson.
||I need to take more time to talk about each of the learning objectives and revisit them throughout the course. Many of my learners are seniors and are not used to being a student. I need to help them make this transition.
|Online testing or other forms of testing and assessment should be integrated into the learning sequence to check the individual learner’s achievement level and provide appropriate feedback.
||Moodle allows for quick reviews and tests (e.g., identifying the different lip shapes) with automated feedback depending on responses. Learners like to do these quizzes and getting feedback privately.
|The learning materials must be sequenced appropriately to promote learning. The sequencing could take the form of simple to complex, known to unknown, and knowledge to application.
||Ensure all topics are sequenced appropriately. I want the students to begin by feeling comfortable and confident, then progress to challenging themselves, but not be frustrated by not knowing how to proceed.
|Learners must be provided with feedback so that they can monitor how they are doing and take corrective action if required.
||I must listen carefully and provide appropriate feedback in both the video calls and also timely feedback on Moodle posts.
|Information critical for learning should be highlighted to focus learners’ attention— pay attention to headings and formatting
||I must pay attention to all Moodle posts for clarity of presentation. Weekly sections, formatting, headings, ease of navigating are important.
|Learners should be told why they should take the lesson so that they can attend to the information throughout the lesson.
||Take the time to explain what each topic involves and how it relates to the “big picture” and how it may help them to solve their communication challenges.
|The difficulty level of the material must match the cognitive level of the learner so that the learner can both attend to and relate to the material. Links to both simpler and more complicated materials can be used to accommodate learners at different knowledge levels.
||Be sure to check in with each student to see how they are doing through individual check-ins but also group inquiries (e.g. this week’s 4150 quick and easy Moodle check-in).
Post material in required, recommended and bonus areas to accommodate varied topics and different levels.
|A generalized information map is provided as an overview of the online lesson
||Create a visual info map for components of speechreading and also the various factors that impact understanding.
|Strategies that promote deep processing should be used to help transfer information to long-term storage. Online strategies to allow learners to apply the information in real life should also be included, to contextualize the learning and to facilitate deep processing
||Ensure we always relate each topic to a relevant and identified problem. Tell stories of past students’ experiences (stories help memory).
|Information should be presented in different modes to facilitate processing and transferring it to long-term memory.
||Provide a variety of options for materials: written, graphs, videos from web and of me.
|Learners should be motivated to learn.
||Make an effort to make the content exciting, relevant, and talk about how it has helped others. Give concrete examples.
|Online strategies that facilitate the transfer of learning should be used to encourage application in different and real-life situations.
||Discuss successes and failures as an attempt to promote memory in response to ‘try this week and report back’ activities. Humour is a tactic that is often appreciated.
|Learners should be given time and the opportunity to reflect.
||Embed questions about the content to encourage reflection. Share the ORID model with them. Talk about the personal benefit I have seen from my reflections required through the PIDP and this course. Promote the use of a reflection journal.
|Learning should be made meaningful.
||Continue to ask students to nominate two situations they want to personally improve by the end of the course.
|Learning should be interactive to promote higher-level learning and social presence, and to help develop personal meaning.
||Encourage participation through collaborative Moodle activities (e.g. forums) and participation on the Zoom calls.
|The rapid increase of information available from a variety of sources means that some information is not as important or genuine as other information. As a result, the learner must be able to identify important information from unimportant information.
||Encourage the learners to think critically about the information they find online. E.g., unethical tinnitus ‘cures’ should be a red flag instead of a hopeful cure. Share info about reliable sources and, alternatively, shady offers.
|Because of the information explosion, learners of the future must be willing to acquire new knowledge on an ongoing basis.
||Promote life-long learning as a necessary skill, so the students have the tools required to continue to investigate new advances in research and technology that may benefit them in the future.
Constructivism calls for a learner to be active in a lesson and to build off of experience to create new knowledge (‘Education Theory/Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom – UCD – CTAG’, n.d.). Group work and activities that ensure this active effort are vital. To this end, I will commit to separate the class into smaller breakout sessions during our Zoom meetings to allow the students to get to know one another better and to share their thoughts with one another in a different setting.
Carwile (2007) provides guidance, also within the constructivist approach to online teaching:
– develop discussion topics that are open-ended to allow each learner to share experiences, interpretations, reactions, and opinions into discussion responses. Set an expectation that each student responds to another student’s post in addition to posting their own ideas.
– provide forums that require students to research an area of interest and report back to the class in the forum
– include many collaborative opportunities, such as discussions on Zoom and forum groups
Finally, as a thorough reminder, Koohang, Riley, Smith, & Schreurs (2009) wrote:
“The design of learning activities included collaboration, cooperation, multiple perspectives, real-world examples, scaffolding, self-reflection, multiple representations of ideas, and social negotiation. The learning assessment elements consisted of instructor assessment, collaborative assessment, and self-assessment. The instructor’s roles were coaching, guiding, mentoring, acknowledging, providing feedback, and assessing student learning. “
Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed., pp. 15–44). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.
Carwile, J. (2007). A Constructivist Approach to Online Teaching and Learning (Vol 12, No. 1), pp. 68-73. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ833907.pdf
E-Learning: How Constructivist Learning Theory Guides Module Learning. (2016, December). (Master’s dissertation). Retrieved from https://dspace.sunyconnect.suny.edu/bitstream/handle/1951/69195/text-gcannarelli-finalthesis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Koohang, A., Riley, L., Smith, T., & Schreurs, J. (2009). E-Learning and Constructivism: From Theory to Application. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 5, 91–109. Retrieved from http://ijello.org/Volume5/IJELLOv5p091-109Koohang655.pdf