Over the last decade, the field of education has been exposed to different philosophies of the best way to design, teach, evaluate, etc. These theories range in scope from simple processes to create interaction, to advanced research of how the brain functions.
Against the backdrop of theories, constructivism has been building its central promise of the “learner-centered” approach to education. Some of the more common theories:
- Brain-based learning – focuses on how our brain works, and offers suggestions for ways in which to create content and instruction…creating optimimal conditions for the brain to learn. See BBL for more info.
- Multiple intelligence – details the way in which people are intelligent…musical, linguistic, intrapersonal, etc. For more information see: MI
- Learning styles – focuses on the way in which we learn. Some people are methodical and detailed in their learning…others are intuitive and free-flowing. Some like extensive data…others – extensive discussion. For more info see: Learning Styles
- Emotional intelligence – this theory is challenging many of the traditional measures of intelligence (IQ test), and emphasizes the importance of managing ourselves, desires, and our emotions in relation to others, the circumstances around us. In a heavily networked society, EI is proving to be a critical requirement for success. For more info see: Emotional Intelligence
Obviously, most designers and instructors are busy…and reacting to changing theories and philosophies would require constant reworking of course material and teaching styles. However, I believe there is a constant thread in the above theories – Variety. Above all else, this is the critical central-point in course design, instruction, and learning.
A designer/instructor who incorporates varied activities, course design, interaction types, content presentation, etc. is practicing MI, EI, BBL, and LS. Text, interactive activities, video clips, Flash presentations, audio, discussion threads, chat sessions, synchronous presentations, reflective journals (or blogging), self-test activities, group presentations, etc…if these (and other components) are used throughout course development (within reason…and for a reason) and instruction – learners will learn.