ETEC 512: Applications of Learning Theories to the Analysis of Instructional Settings

This course was good, well designed, facilitated by a helpful, gracious, insightful instructor – and still sapped me of the will to live. I guess the big take-home for me is that I’m not particularly keen to chat about theorists, especially psychologists (who are doing a difficult job in trying to understand the most complex part of the human body).

While I understand the need to fill out this course to ensure that people have some knowledge of how people learn, it missed a lot of the educational theorists (maybe thinking that we’d already know them?) and in our offering, no one took Vygotsky and did a group project on his ZPD, so we missed a huge chunk of what I think a lot of modern course designs take into consideration.

As I’m writing this and reflecting back on the last few courses, I’m feeling like some curmudgeon, complaining about every little thing. While that’s not entirely untrue, I’m prone to that sort of whinging. So here’s a little more balanced attempt at what I think.

The course was structured in a way that gave a sampling of several different viewpoints of how people learn, and while it’s difficult to demand depth and breadth in a subject, this course and it’s readings, as designed, tried to do that. I think ultimately it was unsatisfying (and again, a course doesn’t have to be satisfying in the sense of eating a nice meal) as it felt the things that I wanted out of it (discussion about learning design in the context of online learning, different theories of how and why people learn online, how theories impact educational technology), I didn’t get it explicitly. Now it’s pretty simplistic to understand that LMS’s replicate the very teacher-centric approach to technology in the classroom. Has there not been any more done to expand this in the last two decades? I cannot fault the course, the facilitator or anything else, and there is in fact nothing stopping me (except time) from diving into Vygotsky and just reading the ever-loving hell out of it. Just it felt so jam-packed with theory, that it didn’t really dip into the practical side of it. Again, I could’ve done that myself, but when a course is framed, with grades, well, you’re going to try to achieve good grades and some of the ancillary learning (and reading) will go by the wayside.

Actually another takeaway from the course is that Vygotsky’s ZPD probably has more applications in an online learning context than any other theory outside of the more modern ones (Connectivism, Rhizomatic Learning) that attempt to describe learning.