A belief that I have firmly held for a long time is that intelligence is not measured by what people know but instead how well they can interpret and apply what they know. With that point made, it is clear that in order to be an effective instructional designer, understanding the way people receive, process, and reapply what they learn is an important ability that should neither be taken for granted or ignored. If the course design for EDUC 6115 centered on a core message that its students are to take away from it, empowering one’s capabilities by retaining and investing in learning theory and application is a must. Still, how does someone reach that conclusion with sheer certainty? The answer lies in the connective relationships that the learning theories, styles, technology, and tenets of motivation have with each other when they are applied toward instructional design.

What Is Most Surprising in Discovering How People Learn

The most surprising things that stood out in discovering how people learn can be relegated to three specific things: 1) stimuli, 2) process, and 3) possibility.  My own learning path was built from the way I was educated from elementary school onto higher education. Acknowledging this point, the depth of understanding I had toward how people learn was reduced to the shared experience most if not all learners had in receiving instruction. It was surprising to learn that whether it was by behavior modification, the interpretation of information through applying it to personal experience, or through evaluating information through social contexts, each person has his or her own stimuli for how the information received is processed, regardless of how the learning environment is designed.  Furthermore, it was surprising to learn that educators take the time to plan how they intend to relate information to their learners for the sake of ensuring that they can recall and apply the information in meaningful ways. Originally, it was my belief that learners decided on their own how they would internally process learned information, but after discovering that educators and designers play an active role in that process, the possibilities that instructional design has for influencing how people learn seem limitless.

My Own Learning Process Better Understood

The way that I learn has been better illuminated thanks to the content reviewed and discussed in this course. Initially, I observed my learning process to be contingent upon a symbiotic relationship between my own cognitive processing capability and the learning environment that provided me with what I learned. However, my learning process is more deeply defined than that, for within that symbiotic relationship is the presence of causal factors that bring out the most of my cognitive process such as the presence of social contexts and connecting to content through relevant bridges between the content and my own personal and professional experiences. Learning about the different learning theories and styles is what shed additional light on those factors and the realization that no one individual’s learning process is restricted in definition to just one learning theory and style.

The Connection Between Theory, Style, Technology, & Motivation

Though a person could easily interpret learning theory, learning style, learning technology, and motivation to be mutually exclusive from one another, such a distinction could not be further from the truth. In order for instructional designers to be effective in their work, they must see that each of these four components represent an important link in a chain of design decision-making that can be the difference in a course being deemed by learners to be of value as opposed to one that learners cannot connect with individually or socially.  In essence, the technology chosen for use in the design must compliment the learning theory and learning style implemented in response to how students learn. To ensure that learners gain the most out of the experience, the course’s design should take into account motivational factors that will inspire learners from start to finish. Therefore, achieving success in designing an effective course is not possible without the inclusion of the four components.

In the end, the information that I learned in this course will be invaluable for my continued study at Walden University and as a professional instructional designer. It is important to understand adult learners if my intention is to provide them with worthwhile learning content. Planning and development of any learning project requires that instructional designers research their audience and apply what is learned toward the decisions made concerning the design. As I continue my coursework at Walden, the content studied in EDUC 6115 will be used as a foundation of planning and research for any instructional design I am required to construct. Without this information, anything designed would be less meaningful for learners.