Monday, December 12, 2011

Alison Parker's Perspective on how people learn!

What is the purpose of learning theory in educational technology?
Learning theory exists to provide educators, parents, psychologists, and the like with a frame of reference to assist with relating certain observed behaviors against what theorists and social scientists have seen as patterns of behavior, in an effort to make sound instructional decisions for children and adult learners that will be using educational technology as a tool in the learning process.
What are your beliefs about how people learn best?
People learn best by observing, listening, doing, asking, telling, demonstrating, reflecting, questioning, probing, evaluating, critiquing, connecting, and letting ideas swirl around in their heads while playing with the concepts long enough to apply, create, build and take ownership of it.   Learning also takes place when the learner can relate to the context in which the topic or idea is presented.  All learners, including adult learners, learn best when prior knowlege is tapped and internal motivation exist allowing the learner to play an active role in self directing the next steps  in the learning process. 

I am in my 14th year as a teacher and what I have observed (with students in grades K, 1, 2, 4, and 5) is that how the student learns is deeply rooted in a myriad of factors, ranging from how they are being raised and parented to their childhood school experiences.  Some might even argue, alot has to do with whether you're a female or a male.  For example, my male students tend to love the integration of technology and seem to learn best when this tool is integrated.  This tends to help cement concepts and to a large degree maintain their motivation.  While my female students tend to thrive more in social settings where discussion, reflection, and writing are integrated into the instruction. 

No matter the methods used there still seems to exist a tug of war amongst educators, those pro integration of technology as a tool in the learning process vs. those who find technology integration to be too  trendy, flashy, and flirty which in the end amounts to a collosal waste of schools' financial and budgetary resources!  

Bloggers Weigh in!  Inquiring minds want to know!
What's your take on this topic?  Is there internal strife in your workplace/school regarding the integration of technology into the curriculum/setting or do the two of them (technology & learning) coexist in a happy marriage? Hmmmmmmm.........

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.


Behaviorism vs. Constructivism

What’s this verbal war between Kerr and Kapp?  There is no need as they are essentially saying the same message along two distinct paths!  Kerr comes off very arrogantly yet wishy washy about his indecisiveness with the isms.  He is too afraid to accept them in their whole formats and offers the idea of “cherry picking” them.  If he knows they all complement one another then why put up a fa├žade?  Huh?  Kapp, on the other hand moves to checkmate and lays down the reality.  The reality is his argument is presented in a more mature fashion.  He states, “Learning is not thing!”
I have to say that I strongly agree with Kapp.  In fact, in my professional observations of how children learn, behaviorism seems to be the norm for most parents birth to school age.    A stimulus, a sense, an association, a response, a reward or a punishment.  The school age years leading up to secondary ed and higher ed reveal that learners are mature enough to move from the egocentric stage (some of us) to engage fully in constructivism.  Could you imagine parenting your child (I have one 13 year old daughter) and waiting for them to construct knowledge on each and every concept?  It would take forever.  Geeeez!  At different times of our life and different situations behaviorism seems to rule as the chosen route the brain takes and at times, the brain chooses constructivism.
 I think there is a gap here in the research so we can’t conclude 100 percent one way or the other.  Further brain research must be done to win the Chess game here!  Your thoughts????
Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log post]. Retrieved from


  1. Hi Alison,

    I agree that students learn best when they can connect and relate to the topic. That’s exactly how our brains work—they make new pathways that connect to old ones to create new knowledge. I found your comments about gender and learning interesting. I agree that males and females learn in different ways. This too has a lot to do with brain development. Females are better muti-taskers because their connective tissue (corpus callosum) develops faster than males, and so on. I heard an interesting story on NPR this morning that relates to gender roles and learning. Check it out:

  2. Hello Alison,

    Prior knowledge assists students in moving to the next level of their educational training. It is important that we allow students to perform creativity in their learning process. Creativity allows for new learning. For example, in our class, there are many learning styles and levels of learning. When we share and collaborate our ideas, we enhance our critical thinking and writing skills. Great job on your post!


  3. Not every student learns in the same way. The best way to learn is to first identify your learning style. It is presumed that each person has a way that they will learn best. The three main type of learning styles are Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. You have listed some important assets regarding how people learn best. I also agree that you have to be familiar with the topic and understand your expectations of that particular task. If all participants play a meaningful role and are actively engage in the learning process, majority of people would express their steps to how they learn. Good Post, you made some great points.

  4. Hello Colleagues,

    Thank you (Michele, Martha and Ksphilli) for responding to my blog! You helped to clarify my points. But I still want to know (this is a thorn and point of great contention at my school).

    Who is integrating technology for learning and what factors contribute to teachers doing so or choosing not to use their Smartboards, clickers, document cameras, laptop carts, etc?


  5. Hello Allison..

    I enjoyed your post and agree that boys and girls learn differently. I find in my classroom that boys do better when there are able to be creative, where the girls just love sticking to the facts. Its the same way with my children at home. Understanding how they learn and what experiences they bring to learning will always be pivotal in the learning process especially in lower elementary. I sometimes feel like a magician trying to meet ensure that I incorporate the different learning styles into my instruction.

    In regards to second post, my school has just equipped each classroom with technology; interactive whiteboards and document cameras. Its been a long time coming, but I will let you know how it all works out since administration will be monitoring usage.

  6. Mrs. Lewis,

    Congrats on the new technologies! My school got a grant and received new SmartBoards in 2009. What a joy to receive that package: Smartboard, documents cameras, and clickers. Is there a technology plan in place created by administration? What supports in terms of professional development are in place for teachers to fully utilize and integrate these technologies?


  7. Alison,

    Alison Parker Response Blog 2
    I agree with your point a view, that behaviorism seems for of an approach to learning during the formative stage. For the reasons you stipulated above (A stimulus, a sense, an association, a response, a reward or a punishment) a pattern of stimulus response learning).
    As for the debate between Kapp and Kerr , Kerr does give a grounded argument on how the -ism relate to learning of today and not to place too much emphasis on one particular learning theory , but to filter the theory to match your teaching and learning population.
    Technology is a time saver that provides the teacher avenues of completing time-consuming task. These include record keeping: parent communications; planning and locating resources to support your curricular objectives; and locating activities and resources to meet individual differences, particularly of students with special needs (Kronowitz, 2007).
    Kronowitz, E. (2008) The Teacher’s Guide to Success. Teaching effectively in today’s classrooms. Pearson: New York