This week was devoted to learning how learning theories translate into more practical instructional design methods, and researching experiential learning as an instructional theory.
My rationale for taking a closer look at experiential learning was its simplest definition: learning by doing. It seems like a jumping off theory for many other instructional theories and methods – project-based learning, case-based learning, role-playing – that are also grounded in a constructivist approach. All share a basis in experience-based learning that is specific to both the learner and the surrounding environment and/or context for learning. In all these approaches, students are not told what or how to learn, and each learner chooses to approach and solve a problem (problems are posed as questions to be answered by learners, not instructors) in a unique way.
Experiential learning also lends itself to deeper learning approaches. Not only is the student learning by doing, they are also engaging in substantial reflection on that learning, which is crucial to Bloom’s higher levels of thinking as well as the practice of metacognition. Learning activities are based in student interest, increasing student learner motivation and interest (key to critical and creative thinking!) Experiential activities allow students to make connections between the learning they are doing and the world at large, and encourages interdisciplinary knowledge-building. My reading has led me to Moon’s Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice which details a two-step process for teaching students reflection, where students move from basic to more complex forms of reflection. I think this would be extremely useful in helping faculty design assessments meant to evaluate deeper learning, as well as assessing faculty development.
In terms of my communities of practice, I joined both the instructional technologies and the instructional design Educause listservs. In the past, I have largely taken a passive role in most CoP’s – reading articles, watching conference presentations, but rarely commenting or questioning. I hope to take a cue from our readings and become a more active participant in my own learning, and I hope joining the listservs will be a first step towards developing a voice in these spaces.
The Shift eLearning blog doesn’t seem to have a very active comments section, and I was turned off by a commercial feel – pop-ups for eBooks, constant sign-up for email prompts, and the like – since the site is geared towards a more corporate audience. However, I feel the content is very current – many articles on higher ed trends like microlearning, mobile learning, etc. I may explore another CoP that might be a better fit for the type of information I am looking for. I find the articles to be a bit content-light, but the sources have been excellent reading, such as this linked resource, “Best Practices in Experiential Learning.” However, the librarian in me doesn’t approve of a link without context or proper citation at the end of an article!
I am including my concept map for this week – I love the look and ease of Coggle, but is actually harder to link across concepts than I thought (which is the main point of this type of exercise!) I may experiment with a different tool next week to try and combine my concept maps from week one and two.