What is learning?

learning                                                                              What is it?

Learning is when you acquire new knowledge or skills through experience, exploration and metacognition. I believe that a major factor of how someone learns has to do with his or her prior knowledge and experience. Not everyone goes through life having the same exact experiences, at the same exact time, with the same exact feelings. Knowing this, we can come to the conclusion that the learning of experts and novices are extremely different. We all have different knowledge and experiences to apply to what we are learning. An experts discipline is extremely organized around one main idea, where a novice’s is not really sure how discipline is organized (Bransford, 1999). I enjoyed Bransford’s (1999) comparison of this knowledge to chess. An expert chess player will not waste his or her time thinking about all of the possible moves to make next. Instead, he or she will skip immediately to the most strategic move to win. A novice would take the time to sort out all of the moves, and then take the time to come to a decision. Bransford (1999) also states that an expert chess player practices by playing 50,000-100,000 a year–so let’s make the connection to education: An expert chess player comes in with much more experience, exploration and metacognition compared to the novice chess player, and is therefore much better at chess. If you were teaching a “chess class,” you would need to take the time to figure out what knowledge and experience your students already have–otherwise you are setting them up to not move forward–you are going to lose them if what you prepare is too easy or too difficult.

A method that combines understanding and conceptual change is Connected Learning. According to Ito (2013), Connected Learning combines peer culture, interests and academics (62). This makes sense if you think about it–students want to learn about things that apply to their real life. I know specifically for me as a learner, I am much more inclined to participate and be intrinsically motivated if the content relates to my life. This reminds me of an activity I did with my first graders this year. We had some digital fun and created our own video games using Pixel Press. They got to choose the name of the game, the design, the characters, create their own advertisement using any materials and set their own price of the game. By giving them most of the control over the assignment and letting them pick the theme, I was shocked at how excited and “geeked” they were about the assignment. I spent more time collaborating with students about their ideas and listening to them collaborate, rather than managing the class. They were so engrossed in their projects–all because it related to their lives and what interested them. In the end, they produced higher quality work than I had expected and it was clear the projects relevance was a huge motivation factor.

As I continue to study educational technology, I reflect on how these foundational ideas can be valuable to me as a learner and teacher.Using different technologies can help me to make connections and transfer information. Providing different technologies can do the same for my students. I hope I can continue to add resources to my tool bag to execute in future classroom settings.

Resources:

Bransford, J., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How People Learn Brain, Mind,

Experience, and School. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Mizuko Ito (2013).  Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design.  Retrieved from

<http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf&gt;.

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