• The Technological Revolution
• The Spectrum of Learning Theories
• Fitting the Other Theories into the Spectrum
• Theory of Multiple Intelligence
• Learning Theories and the Brain
• Brain Structures
• Implications for Learning Theory
• Implications for Multimedia
By Darren Forrester & Noel Jantzie
This chapter takes a brief look at the two major categories of learning theories (behaviorism and constructivism), the major theorists within those categories, and the implications of those theories for the use of multimedia and communications and information technology for learning purposes. A separate section within the chapter provides a brief overview of learning based upon neuroscience and recent discoveries about the functioning of the brain. A series of links are provided to further resources on learning theory, neuroscience, and the brain.
Our Technological Revolution and the Implications for the Way We Learn We have all experienced a learning moment when we were so focussed or engulfed in the learning, that everything else did not matter. Candidly, the raison d'être or motivation for our focus may have been that we had a boss or teacher breathing down our neck or an impending exam was to quantify our level of knowledge or intelligence or a particular moment necessitated that a skill be learned very quickly. Regardless of the motivating factors for this moment of focussed learning, the experience is what psychologists Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi and Ellen Langer label in their respective theories, as moments of "optimum flow" or "mindfulness". According to psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, optimum flow occurs when: Alientation gives way to involvement, enjoyment replaces boredom, helplessness turns into a feeling of control, and psychic energy works to reinforce the sense of self, instead of being lost in the service of external goals. (Czikszentmihalyi, 1990, p.69) Replicating such moments of optimum flow is the job of educators regardless of the domain, whether it be school, the workplace in job training, or the military, etc. Moreover, certain learning theorists are advocating the greater use of technology, namely computers, in learning situations because they see enormous potential of computer technology to replicate these optimum moments of flow. Learning is a personal act. We each place our own personal stamp on how we learn, what we learn and when we learn. We in effect have our own learning style. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences which acknowledges learning as an holistic experience is, at present, one of the most well known descriptors of human cognitive profiles. The act of learning is paradoxical in nature. It can at times appear to be a very simple act. So simple, that we do not question its presence in how we go about our daily activities, for it is natural to our existence as learning organisms. Yet, when we encounter difficulties in learning something, we no longer take the learning process for granted. It is only then that our metacognition or awareness of how we learn is heightened. Learning is taken for granted as a natural process. As simple a process it may seem, the root of understanding how we learn is not as straight forward. The existence of numerous definitions and theories of learning attest to the complexity of this process. A random sampling of any educational psychology text will illustrate the variance in views to what exactly is learning and how we do learn. In Educational Psychology: An Introduction, for example, the authors write, "Learning implies a change in the individual as a result of some intervention. It may be viewed as an outcome or as a process." (Belkin and Gray, 1977, p.211) While this definition reflects a behaviorist view of learning, for it...
References: Belkin, Gary, S. and Gray Jerry, L. (1977). Educational Psychology: An Introduction. Dubuque Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers
Gagne, Robert, M. and Briggs, Leslie, J.. (1974). Principles of Instructional Design. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc.
Gardner, Howard (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: BasicBooks, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.
McLellan, Hilary. (1996). Being Digital: Implications for Education. Educational Technology
On Purpose Associates (1998a)
On Purpose Associates (1998b). Constructivism [Online]. Available: http://www.funderstanding.com/learning_theory_how1.html [1998, April 13]
Papert, Seymour (1993)
Skinner, B. F. (1968). The Technology of Teaching. New York: Meredith Corporation
Tapscott, Don. (1998). Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw Hill
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