Learning Theories in The Education of 21st Century

From Behaviorism to Connectivism

The origin of theories of learning was in ancient Greece. Over the ages, theories of learning have been developing and transforming. Many famous educators developed various theories – from Behaviorism to Connectivism – in order to explain the human learning process. I personally am using ideas of Connectivism in my teaching process very often. The majority of my lessons are based on the co-teaching model. While preparing I am using my research skills pretty often to find relevant material, such as online content for classes or new digital tools. Online content is constantly changing in the 21st century as well as our learning process, which results in change of our lifestyle in general. According to Siemens “Learners as little as forty years ago would complete the required schooling and enter a career that would often last a lifetime. Information development was slow. The life of knowledge was measured in decades. Today, these foundational principles have been altered. Knowledge is growing exponentially. In many fields the life of knowledge is now measured in months and years.

Connectivism according to George Siemens is A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

Using learning theories to support students’ learning

With this COVID-19 situation in Europe, which made many countries close schools and switch to distance learning, I had a great opportunity to rethink my teaching practice. This made me realize the importance of learning theories. Now I am reaching my students through Google Classroom and Seesaw. I am uploading assignments, video tutorials which I’ve created using Loom (online video recorder). Together with my students, we are having conversations and discussions relevant to the topic of study through comments in Google Classroom. I’m including online research and moving towards including online collaboration activities between students to my lessons.
My further plan is to bring part of my teaching content to online conversations with my students thorough Google Meet. In my opinion, especially now, in current COVID-19 situation, practical application of learning theories like Connectivism and Constructivism is inevitable. I’ve noticed, that understanding of Connectivism and Constructivism as learning theories helped me rethink my online lesson plans and focus more on:
– Students’ learning from each other
– More collaboration within student groups and between groups
– Relate tasks to real-life situations
For example, students can work on creation of a Google Site about the best learning online practices together and communicate through Google Meet sessions online.
Working together towards one goal, especially if it is related to a real-world situation, is motivating. Real-time feedback encourages and motivates you to reach your goal sooner. For example:
– Designing an actual room with real measurements, furniture, windows, etc. using online designing tool Planner 5D.
– Creating a tour of countries you’ve visited using Tour Builder.
– Creating an art gallery using Thinglink.
According to constructivist principles, real-life learning is messy and complex. Classrooms that emulate the “fuzziness” of this learning will be more effective in preparing learners for life-long learning. Frances Bel: Connectivism: Its Place in Theory-Informed Research and Innovation in Technology-Enabled Learning.

Constructivism
Learning as “a persisting change in human performance or performance potential…[which] must come about as a result of the learner’s experience and interaction with the world” Driscoll

We just completed our week #2 of distance learning at our school and I’ve noticed, that all the planning and preparation for lessons have significantly changed in comparison to previous process of preparation.
I’m communicating (online now, of course) with my colleagues even more than previously. As one of the IT support staff members, I am responsible for providing all necessary content to my colleagues. Therefore, I’ve noticed, that in many cases we are learning from each other. Teachers are looking for better ways of students’ motivation in learning new things online. Frustration is unavoidable here, because of loads of new information and unknown digital tools as well as new solutions. Teachers are impressed of the amount of new information they are getting and have to learn every day and it is moving to a successful “Geeking Out” between teachers.

Participation in the digital age means more than being able to access “serious” online information and culture; it also means the ability to participate in social and recreational activities online. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy as one of the learning theories is different from other learning theories by its clear structure. It is categorized by learning 6 stages:
Creating – To produce new or original work.   Tools – Animating, blogging, filming, podcasting, publishing, simulating, wiki building, video blogging, programming, directing
Evaluating – To justify a stand or decision; to make judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing.  Tools – Grading, networking, rating, testing, reflecting, reviewing, blog commenting, posting, moderating
Analyzing – To draw connections among ideas, concepts, or determining how each part interrelate to an overall structure or purpose.  Tools – Mashing, mind mapping, surveying, linking, validating
Applying – To use information in new situations such as models, diagrams, or presentations.  Tools – Calculating, Charting, editing, hacking, presenting, uploading, operating, sharing with a group
Understanding – To explain ideas, concepts, or construct meaning from written material or graphics.  Tools – Advanced searching, annotating, blog journaling, tweeting, tagging, commenting, subscribing
Remembering – To recall facts, basic concepts, or retrieval of material.  Tools – Bookmarking, copying, googling, bullet-pointing, highlighting, group networking, searching
Obiageli Sneed: Integrating Technology with Bloom’s Taxonomy

I find really effective using Bloom’s taxonomy in an online learning environment – check out this infographic created by Ron Carranza.
I believe that any successful educational process is inherent from Bloom’s taxonomy and I wish I could apply it to all of my teaching units.

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