I believe that learning, like some many things, begins very small, like an initial thought or concept, which after more time, direction, knowledge, and understanding are applied to it becomes a much larger thing entirely. This perspective, which my experience can substantiate, is quite true when I think about how my own understanding and perspective on learning began and has changed as I discovered more about it. My beginning perspective on learning obviously was shaped by my childhood experiences with it which was, as I had described before, quite simple: learning was a matter of physical environment, where a teacher of some kind orally presented information to other students within an enclosed setting. Though there were discussions where processes and concepts were explored and defined, essentially learning was a matter of memorization and retention. My perspective changed very little as I grew older, but it wasn’t until I was on the path to becoming an educator myself that I began to look at learning differently. My graduate studies required that I take a course on pedagogy as it pertained to teaching college composition. This introduction to pedagogy led to my introduction to andragogy, thus beginning the foundations for how I view learning today. Now, I can say that my view of learning goes beyond just the physical learning environment to include virtual environments, social and collaborative tools, and different learning approaches and styles aimed at different learner types and their preferred learning methods.
From a personal standpoint, learning about the different theories and styles has shed light on my own personal preferences when it comes to learning. For instance, engaging in discussions and the presence of an authority on the subject being discussed are necessary for me to feel like I’m in a learning situation. The information and guidance that learning theories and styles provide do take into account the means in which learners engage in learning situations on varying levels including the social, physiological, and cognitive levels. Whether learning is achieved either through personal experiences that learners use to test new ideas and concepts, or through social engagement and discussion, or through a multilevel learning network comprised of various resources, the way we learn is contingent upon what we perceive offers the best learning outcomes and experience for us. Therefore, learning theories and styles provide in depth insight into what leads to those preferences.
Technology plays an important role in learning today and has a far reaching impact for many, especially myself. As a career professional, time is a limited resource, and technology like the Internet, mobile apps, and teleconferencing tools make it possible for information to be acquired near instantly and with greater ease. For instance, virtual classrooms designed for e-learning, online libraries, general search engines and specialized search engines like Google Scholar are the principal resources I use when continuing my professional development, educational development, and fulfilling my research needs. When I design and create documentation and curriculum to be used for online and face-to-face facilitation, the Adobe Creative Suite, Captivate, SnagIt, and Microsoft Office applications are my main tools I use to record, create, and design informational content. In the end, all that I have learned concerning learning theories and styles, and the technological advancements that help learning become more available for all the different learner types, continue to evolve how I view how people learn.