Advanced eLearning Design Part 2

(Preface: These are my notes from attending ASTD’s Advanced eLearning Design Certificate Course, taught by Julie Dirksen)

Learning Theories

Behaviorism is primarily concerned with visible behavior.

Cognitivism is primarily concerned with what is going on in the brain.

  • Types of Memory
    • Explicit
      • Semantic
      • Episodic
    • Implicit
      • Procedural
      • Conditioned
  • What puts it in long-term memory?
    • Interesting, unexpected
    • Personal interest/experience
    • Interaction/application
    • Emotional response
    • Significance
    • Repetition
    • Humor

Constructivism is primarily concerned with meaning-making.

  • We construct our own meaning
  • People need to interact with concepts to learn
  • Expert learners vs novice learners.
  • Schema building is an exercise in problem solving. Can’t hand over the content until the student has built the structure. Structure is built through meaning-making.

Blended and Connectivism is where we are now.

  • A blend – take the best of the theories and apply them as they fit
  • Social learning

Types of Learning

Facts are arbitrarily associated pieces of information that we code in semantic memory. Strategies to teach facts include embedding them in a meaningful context, relating them to other relevant tasks, using organizers to provide cognitive structure, requiring learner effort, and leveraging the brain’s visual capacity.

Concepts are groups of objects, events or symbols that all share some common characteristics and are identified by the same names. Subjects learned initially as facts may later be relearned as concepts. Converting non-examples to examples is a powerful technique (i.e., understanding what is NOT as well as what is). Strategies to teach concepts include providing varied positive examples, providing negative examples, presenting both positive and negative examples simultaneously, and making examples as divergent as possible.

Procedures are sequences of steps needed to accomplish a goal, solve a problem or produce a product. Strategies to teach procedures include demonstrating individual steps and the entire procedure, providing practice of individual steps, sequencing steps, listing steps, providing practice of the entire procedure, using backward and forward chaining, and providing job aids or mnemonics.

Problem Solving is combining facts, concepts, procedures and rules to solve unfamiliar problems. How you phrase the problem (ask the question) matters. Strategies to teach problem solving include ensuring prerequisites have been learned, classifying the problem, determining which rules apply, determining the order of rules, evaluating adequacy of solutions, gradually phasing out guidance, and practicing with well-defined problems before ill-defined problems.

Attitudes are beliefs, values and opinions that influence choices and actions. Strategies to teach/influence attitudes include providing a demonstration of the desired behavior by a respected role model, providing practice for the desired behavior, providing rewards for the desired behavior, using a variety of measurement methods, and tapping into emotional components. Recognize that adoption of change is influence by perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Some tips: leverage the need to be in step with the norm, get them past the first time by providing for practice, surface success stories before, during, and after the training, and look for ways to lessen immediate fears.


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