Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Philosophy of learning

           My learning philosophy is informed by the various learning theories I have studied.  I believe each theory has something to offer teachers as they endeavor to meet the learning needs of students.  Examples include the behaviorist’s drill and practice and chaining, the cognitivist’s rehearsal and chunking processes, the constructivists’ experiential learning experiences (Driscoll, 2005) or the connectivists’ networked learning (Siemens, 2008).  Teachers should locate, explore and practice innovative ways to meet the needs of learners, to inspire and motivate a desire to learn in any environment whether face to face or online.  While teachers should be conscious of students learning styles, they should teach not only to their strengths but also challenge them to learn in other ways as well since this will help develop well rounded individuals.  The teaching learning process should be learner centered and provide opportunities for learners’ active involvement with the environment and collaboration with others.  The learning environment should authenticate the everyday problem solving information seeking context in which the learner is able to build and expand their personal information network.  Teachers should be flexible, engaging students and embracing their ever changing roles (Siemens, 2008).

          It is critical that today’s learning environment allow the student to slip seamlessly from an everyday classroom into the digital world.  I believe that student’s should be comfortable in both spaces as teachers allow students to explore beyond the classroom.   I believe that a caring supportive environment should be established whether online or face to face.  I believe that the teaching/learning process is not only top down but also bottom up, that it is an interactive, collaborative process through which both teachers and pupils are changed.  While I do not embrace connectivism as the sole learning theory for this era I agree with Siemens (2006) that learning is not strictly linear but the learner now has the opportunity to learn beyond the bounds of the classroom.  I believe that one of the purposes of teaching/learning is to stimulate inquiring minds and develop independent, self-directed, life-long learners.  All of this I believe is critical and non-negotiable if we are to develop twenty-first century citizens.

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. A Creative Commons licensed version, Retrieved from  
Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Retrieved from


Jeff Sparling said...

I applaud your approach and willingness to try what works for the student. This is truly a reflective process!

We have to embrace the technology to be good teachers as we must make the student ready to use it when they leave our care and face the world.

Maintain your stance and your students will be the benefactors!


Segla Kossivi said...

Indeed, teaching and learning consist of interactive and collaborative processes through which instructors and learners exchange ideas and construct knowledge. In the digital world, the connective (Downes, 2012) learning theory offers autonomy, connectedness, diversity, and openness and is conducive to learning in networks. Individuals’ learning progressively occurs across various information technologies. Through the Internet, the networked information economy empowers learners using a rich collection of “online information resources, including community based, collaborative knowledge exchange systems scholarly communication, online databases and other library resources” (Dunaway, 2011, p. 675).

Downes, S. (2012). Connectivism and connective knowledge: Essays on meaning and learning networks. Retrieved from
Dunaway, M. K. (2011). Connectivism: Learning theory and pedagogical practice for networked information landscapes. Reference Services Review, 39(4), 675-685. doi:

Shannon Burns-Casimier said...

I agree with you that all learners should be self-directed and lifelong learners. As educators, we must challenge all students to become independent thinkers and problem solvers.

You mentioned in your post that you do not embrace connectivism as a sole learning, but you also agreed with Siemens who supports connectivism. Do you think that you are contradicting yourself? Shannon~

Dorothea Nelson said...

Thanks for the encouragement Jeff.

Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Shannon,

Since I am convinced that each theory has something to contribute to the learning process, I do not embrace connectivism as the "sole"/only theory for this era. I believe it does respond to how we learn in a digital environment, but I am equally sure that even in this environment behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism has a place.


Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Segla,

I agree.


Mrs. Logan said...

I agree that no one learning theory will fits the needs of students not even the connectivist theory. While this is the latest that we have studied, teachers must remember to meet the needs of the whole child not just one aspect.


Tiffany Thompson said...

I, too, noticed your statement about "While I do not embrace connectivism as the sole learning theory for this era...", but I zeroed in on the word "sole." I like how you said that. My position in our Connectivism Critique was seeing Cconnectivism as an additional learning theory. However, I agree with you that it is not the "sole" learning theory. I also agree with your response and Mrs. Logan that no one theory fits the needs of all students. Connectivism is visible in the majority of my students though. ;) Great discussion post Dorothea!

Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Tiffany,

I appreciate your post. I really do see each theory has something to contribute to the learning process even in a digital environment. For instance even though we agree with Siemens that no one person can know everything about any subject aren't there still concepts that we expect children to know? Isn't there room in the online world for drill and practice? Isn't there a place for learners to reflect and construct their own learning? Each theory is valid and viable dependent on what is to be taught or learned and the individual doing the learning/teaching.


Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Mrs. Logan,

I believe that the methodologies employed depends on the concept to be taught and the learner.