Category Archives: EDUC 8845 – Learning Theory and Education Technology

Learning in a Digital World (module 6)

Technology is changing the way we teach, how students learn, and how teachers and students interact.  No longer does a class have to be rows of desks in which a teacher lectures from the front of a room, nor should it be.  Teachers can now help students make connections with their current topic to topic in which they are considered experts.  For example, teachers can make or find videos that show how a skate ramp  or arc of a basketball from the shooter’s hands to the hoop are just a parabolas who curve can be determined through quadratic equations.  Learners can now see visual representations of abstract concepts to help them make sense of what they are learning.  Social media websites such as Twitter or Facebook allow for teacher-student interactions outside of the classroom, anytime, and on any day.

Technology can have an amazing impact on learning.  Educators, however should take care in the way they use technology and the amount.  Just because technology is used does not mean that it is conducive to learning.  For example, the internet allows students to collaborate with others to create some product, a report, a video, a solution to a problem, etc.  But constantly collaborating with others virtually could have serious repercussions on a students’ social emotional learning because they do not get practice in waiting for their turn to speak, making eye contact, active listening skills, and other non-verbal communication techniques.

Teaching and learning has one non-negotiable component, creating a mental change.  Teaching and learning must always have at least two people.  There must always be someone at one end providing direction while someone at the other end is receiving it.  This does not mean that the teacher has to be some adult who went to college and is trained in the art of teaching or even a physical someone.  The teacher can be a student while the learner is the teacher, or the teacher can be a computer program set up to provide demonstrations.  The key is that someone, the learner, is experiencing some kind of cognitive change.  Technology now allows for anybody to be a teacher or a learner.

Below are a some articles that discuss different uses for technology in a classroom setting.


New Technologies (module 5)

New technologies can be very intimidating, especially for those for consider themselves technologically illiterate. There are some people who, when offered an opportunity to use technology, become so anxious and/or despondent that they close their mind to the thought that they may actually enjoy and be good at using the new tool. One student in particular comes to mind when I think of anti-technology minded individuals.

In August 2012 I started teaching at a new school during that prided itself on being technologically advanced compared to other schools. I wanted to do something more advanced with my classes too, and really help them understand the material. I had recently researched the theory of a “flipped classroom” in which lessons are taught or introduced while the student was at home via PowerPoints presentations, YouTube videos or other interactive websites, and the next class period would be dedicated to going over any questions they had and doing practice, or the traditional “homework”. During the first day of school, I explained the theory to each of my classes and told them that there would be a “trial period” to see how they each adapted to the flipped style. Most students were very excited at the new possibility, but there were a few who seemed quite hesitant about it. There was one student who hated using the computer so much that she went home, told her mom that I told them they would have to learn the material on their own from the internet, and wanted out of my class. The next morning I got a phone call from the mother, chastising me (there were several choice words and name-calling used) for my choice in instructional methods and requiring students to use the internet for learning. I was heart-broken, not that I was yelled at, though that was quite unpleasant, but that this student had such low confidence in her ability to use technology that the idea of having to use the computer on a daily basis made her want to switch classes.

Had I had the chance to reintroduce the concept of a flipped classroom to this student, I would have tried to follow Keller’s ARCS model as described by Driscoll (2005).  The ARCS model suggests that in order to motivate a learner to try or learn something new, the educators must (a) get the learners attention, (b) show the learner how the material is relevant to him or her, (c) help the learner gain confidence in their ability to successfully complete a learning task, and (d) generate satisfaction in learning.  A re-introduction to the flipped classroom would look like something like this… A YouTube video would be shown that introduces the idea of a flipped classroom, and another that quickly walks students through the easy steps of how to access each class’s assigned viewings.  I would be sure to make it very clear to students that I would not be sending them to random websites, but to sites and videos that have been well thought out and explain the material better than I could.  Most of the videos they would be watching would be me explaining the material, and usually wouldn’t be more than about 10-15 minutes in length.  During class time, I would spend about 20-30 minutes quick reviewing the material and answering questions, and the last hour would be spent doing the practice (worksheets, experiments, or other learning activities) that would normally take them several hours to complete at home.  As for building confidence and generating satisfaction, that can only come after the students have had some practice with the new learning method.  I am confident however, that once students get used to the routine of a flipped classroom and using technology at home, they will come to love it!

Here are some websites that discuss the concept of a flipped classroom and the benefits it has for both teachers and students…





Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

Connectivism Mindmap (Module 4)

Connectivism Mindmap Mod 4 EDUC 8845

With the advancements being made in technological tools, the way I access information is constantly changing.  The internet was once used to simply send emails and correspondence, but now allows for instant access to nearly anything and everything.  I use the internet every day to either read up on recent research in the field of education, find new recipes, learn how to DIY projects, or keep in touch with old friends.  I have found that tech tools such as blogs, discussion forums, or video conferencing have been the best learning devices for me because I can interact with others and get different perspectives on various topics.  If I find that I am in need of new information, I generally start with a search engine such as Google or Bing, then browse through the link suggestions until I find a few that seem the most reputable and legitimate.  Connecting to others in some form or fashion is key to learning new things.


Below is a list of some of the educational blogs and websites I like best.





Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Retrieved from

Collaboration and Constructivism (Module 3)

Human beings have an innate need to not be alone; to be part of a group. Throughout history, mankind has proven time and time again that they belong in a pack or group. The chances of survival are much better if people work together. Howard Rheingold provided the example that cave men used to work together to hunt for food, to survive. In education, the instinct to endure is still present. Without being told to do so, students will form groups to work together to complete assignments and learn from each other to “survive” or pass the test. Constructivists believe education should be a collaborative effort by the students. Working in groups allows students to be in charge of their own learning, practice social negotiation, and develop “multiple perspectives and multiple modes of learning” (Driscoll, 2005, p. 384). If humans have a natural instinct to work together, then constructivism is an instructional strategy that follows that instinct.

As the world progresses in the arena of technology, it only makes sense that it should a part of education. The possibilities are endless when technology is used as a collaborative tool. Document sharing sites such as Google Docs or Skydrive and programs like Skype or GoToMeeting allow students to each contribute to a group project even if they can’t physically be together. In a 2009 study, Barbera found that when students worked together on a netfolio (a collective e-portfolio) assessing one another’s work resulted in better individual work. “Using the netfolio leads to more revisions both by the students, of their own work, and amongst students, and this in turn leads to better final results” (Barbera, 2009, p. 353).





Barbera, E. (2009). Mutual feedback in e-portfolio assessment: an approach to the netfolio system. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2), 342-357. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00803.x

Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved from

Cognitivism as a Learning Theory (Mod 2)

Karl Kapp, Bill Kerr, and Stephen Downes held a very interesting conversation regarding the different types of learning theories and which one(s) are best.  Each author argues his point at to the advantages and faults with a particular theory, while never truly stating which one theory he prefers.

While Downes seems to hold the idea that behaviorism has become an obsolete practice, Kapp and Kerr believe that while it has undergone some minor changes, it is alive and well.   Downes states “It remains puzzling that so much of the instructional design community remains rooted in behaviorism – this more than 30 years after the theory was abandoned everywhere else” (as cited in Kapp, 2006, Design: Behaviorism has its Place, para. 1).    Kapp then counters by providing examples of how a child touching a hot stove and  the slot machines in Las Vegas provide the stimulus-response reaction that grounds the theory of behaviorism.

As the discussion turned to cognitivisim, Downes and Kapp seemed to agree that in order to understand how learning occurs, one must first understand how information is processed in the brain.   However, they quickly find opposition in the same paragraph/post.  Kapp states that the brain is like the processing unit of a computer (as cited in Kerr, 2007) while Downes argues that computer is goverened by rules and regulations whereas a human brain is not (Kerr, 2007).

The constant agreement/disagreement of these three authors makes one thing quite clear for me…there is no one best learning theory.  Educators should pick and choose the best concepts from each theory to form their own working “theory” that helps their learners, but shouldn’t expect it to work for everyone.  I take back my earlier statement…there is one best learning theory.  It is one that is flexible and adaptive to the learner.  In 2007, Kapp posted learning theory suggestion with which I completely agree.  He says,

I suggest that lower level learning (lower cognitive load) requires a behaviorist approach (memorize, recognizing, labeling) as does the expectation of outcomes that must be measured. I then suggest that procedural and rule-based learning requires an emphasis on Cognitivism and finally, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity require a view of Constructivism (Out and About: Discussion On Educational Schools of Though, para. 4).



Kapp, K. (2006, December 21). Design: Behaviorism Has its Place [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kapp, K. (2006, December 28). Definition: Cognitivism [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from


Learning Theory and Educational Technology (EDUC 8845 – Mod1)

What are your beliefs about how people learn best?

Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences which basically states that every individual has certain strengths and weaknesses that influence the way in which they learn, and that every individual learns in a different way.  Some people tend to be more musically inclined than others and may find it easier to learn topics through song, for example singing the Quadratic Formula to the tune of “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra.  Others may prefer kinesthetic learning and learn best by being physically active, for example having students walk paces to a given coordinate on a coordinate plane taped to the classroom floor.  There is no one way that people learn best.  Instead, we should be recognizing that people learn best in their own learning style.

What is the purpose of learning theory in educational technology?

Howard Gardner (2000) wrote a paper titled “Can technology exploit our many ways of knowing?” in which he discusses how technology can be used to appease different learning styles and intelligences.  With the mass amounts of technology available these days there is a tool to assist every learner.  However, with so many avenues for learning so easily accessible it is up to the teacher to determine which tools are appropriate.  As Gardner stated, inappropriate use of technology in the educational setting “are all too often simply used to ‘deliver’ the same old ‘drill-and-kill’ content” (2000, p. 33).   In it imperative for educators to understand different learning theories so they can choose the tools that are right for their students.


Gardner, H. (2000). Can technology exploit our many ways of knowing?. Retrieved from


For more on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences go to: