Learning Sketch

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Five: Reflecting for Tomorrow’s Learning

In recent weeks, I have made several opportunities to speak to learning managers, instructional designers, and adult learning specialists about what it takes to ensure successful learning. I also have taken the opportunity to reflect on what Dr. Rorabaugh has been engaging us as learning professionals. This post looks at the culmination of experiences, scholarly research, and personal communications as they have gradually changed my perspective on how we define successful learning.

I often reach into my course work for answers. Gagne (1981) provided us with a framework for instruction in his “nine events” that look and sound like what Adasi begins describing as “sage on the stage.” However, we can still identify the steps of instruction for self-learning if we think about it, “Blended learning moves away from the “sage on the stage” learning and provides the learner the opportunity to learn at their own pace. The self-pace aspect of blended learning should fulfill an adult learner’s self-directed nature.”

However, I believe that looking at these steps can be performed by the learner themselves if they are properly motivated and directed. People often perform learning experiences without their even knowing. They even truly enjoy some of them. As our culture moves toward smart phones, social networks, and other new concepts people enjoy due to technology, we as instructional designers have to consider the future.

Looking at blended learning, andragogy, connectivism, and even the structured objectives and assessments standards Dale discusses, we see how there is a common thread—learning. “As learners in an academic setting, we are used to certain conventions. Throughout our K-12 years, we were used to the ‘sage on the stage,’ the instructor-led universe that is pedagogy. Because of this early imprinting, this convention is drilled deep into our ‘student’ psyche.” Dale also presents another anecdotal learning experience, “Ultimately, the programmer ended up using this network of learners to master enough programming knowledge to start his own business—all without ever taking a course on programming.”

In these examples, Dale provides us with two different learning context, modalities, and even motivations. However, there is always a cognitive process involved regardless of the modality, style, or context for learning. I think this is where we can continue to build on our practices as good instructional designers.

Clearly, we see there are different ways to achieve learning as technology grows. I think all of us in the academic and learning realms see that people learn different skills and implement different skills different ways. Oland indicates this saying, “In most cases there are general guidelines by which you execute the given tasks [welding, machine work, instruction, and teaching], but in the end, how you complete them depended a lot on personal style and creativity of the person doing it.”

While typically we may see instruction as a room of individuals absorbing knowledge through the senses as information is provided, we can definitely agree that the level of engagement and motivate all play a tremendous role in what occurs.

Thomas and Brown (2011) Each of these stories illustrates how the new culture of learning is taking root and transforming the way we think about information, imagination, and play” (ch. 1, The Moral of the Stories, para. 1).

Looking back at the readings and “rabbit-hole” running experiences of connected learning in #ccourse have engaged myself in recently, I realize that we have focused in on a few key elements about humans, technology, and the paradigm shift we face. Many of the daily activities of professionals cause them to forget that each learner is unique. While we often try to predict and prepare the learners to achieve success, we cannot forget that our audience is constantly changing because of the influence of technology.

I realize Gagne (1981) was already trying to develop the perfect structure for helping us, but even as we adapt new instructional design practices, we can still rely on the work of those who came before and now we can connect with those who are our contemporaries to facilitate the needs of today’s learners.


Gagne, R. M., Wager, W., & Rojas, A. (1981). Planning and Authoring Computer-Assisted Instruction Lessons. Educational Technology, 21(9), 17-21.

Thomas, D. & Brown, J.S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

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