Learning Thursday is a blog series that features a new L&D article every other week along with discussion points. Read and then share your own ideas by commenting below! Check out the last Learning Thursday here.
No matter what career you choose, your prior experiences influence your work. Every learning professional has a reason they want to teach. And that reason influences how we teach, what we think learning is, and how we approach the learning experience.
Here is a video that discusses how digital media is changing how students view learning experiences:
What is your personal philosophy of learning?
- Based on your prior experiences, how and when does learning occur?
- Are there any learning theories or schools of thought you use when designing learning experiences?
- What are the roles of the learner and facilitator in a learning environment? Do these roles change depending on circumstance?
To me, learning is something that must take place over a period of time, with trial and error, and through repetition. Learning is more than memorization. It is a journey toward mastery of knowledge and it is not a straight line. The learner makes mistakes that ultimately lead to a more rounded understanding of what is right or wrong within context. Basic knowledge is augmented over time with scaffolds of more advanced knowledge, and knowledge that was initially incorrect is challenged and replaced.
Constructivism is, to me, a good way of formulating a learning experience. (Here are some articles on constructivism.) It allows for active involvement of the learner in experiential, collaborative environments. I do think however that constructivism can sometimes be the wrong approach, as it can downplay the importance of having some sort of guide or facilitator. If learners try to lead their own learning experiences, there can be an element of the blind leading the blind. We have to balance the “bottom-up” learning experience of constructivism by incorporating the “top-down” instructor role effectively. An instructor in a constructivist experience may ask questions and lead the learner to identify what knowledge is inaccurate. The instructor uses their overall, broader understanding to assist the learner in scaffolding. The instructor introduces appropriate resources to the learner and then allows the learner to decide the value of those resources.
Facilitating this type of learning experience requires that we shift our approach to assessment of learning. Rather than delivering test questions or assessing retention, we might ask learners to complete a project and then allow the finished product to represent the learner’s level of understanding. We can use cases and problems to present the learner with challenges. This enables inquiry-based learning and gives the facilitator an accurate picture of whether the learner has the skills necessary to address real-world scenarios. We can also create communities of practice so learners are able to mentor each other.
Would love to hear how your experiences and beliefs influence your teaching methods!