Many learning theories and models have been proposed to better understand the process and dynamics of human learning. It is very important for Instructional Designers (IDs) to have an understanding of learning theories (conceptual frameworks that serve to explain how humans learn) and learning styles (a person’s preferred method for approaching learning). By considering these frameworks and using them as guideposts, ID’s can adapt learning materials to deliver better instruction and enhance students’ learning experiences.
People have a variety of strengths and preferences for how they obtain and understand information; and most of the time, a person has a range of learning styles that can change according to the subject being presented. In fact, no-one person has a single exclusive style or preference. It is important for IDs and Educators in general to understand their learning preferences and which learning theories they identify with in their own leaning process because this can affect the way we communicate information to others.
After studying the prevailing learning theories and reflecting upon my own learning preferences, I have closely identified with Connectivism. Connectivism, has been labeled “a theory for the digital age.” It describes learning in relation to all the connections we create through digital sources (i.e., online forums, blogs, social networking, YouTube, etc.). Although there is a lot of controversy regarding this theory, I believe that those who were born into the tech-revolution age have no problem identifying with this way of learning, and that the controversy will be put to rest as ‘Gen Z’ or the ‘Net Geners’ come of age.
Technology takes a prevalent role in our lives, and as such it is also at the forefront of delivering learning. The upcoming generation cannot remember a time when their education did not include a computer or other tech device. Because of this “tech-savvy” world we live in, traditional educational practices are changing and IDs are encumbered with the responsibility of providing instruction that meets these shifting needs.