For those interested in getting a better understanding of how learning occurs, see the following websites:

Explorations into Learning and Instruction: The Theory into Practice Database. Maintained by Greg Kearsley, it's quite useful for brief introductions into learning theories, domains, and concepts.

EmTech has "over 15,000 resources organized by topics for teachers, students, and parents" with this page of links to learning theories.

See also Kathy Sierra's Crash Course in Learning Theory.

Yesterday, Dina Rosen and I presented at a conference on Pedagogy across Disciplines: Imagining and Delivering the Possibilities. We looked at the use of blogs, wikis, and google docs for promoting interaction among students and among instructors.

Participants had quite a few questions. One asked how what we were doing was any different from Dewey approaches to educcation. We responded that the approaches aren't different, but that these online tools support experiential learning in ways that may be more difficult without them. For instance,

  • These tools allow students ways to interact without having to meet physically, a key factor for commuter and working students.
  • They create real audiences, thus giving an authentic purpose that motivates students.
  • They can engage students more, thus ending up with them spending more time on task, the main factor in learning.
  • And so on.

As one participant noted, however, it's not about the tools: It's about learning. Thus, as we use these tools, or others, we need to ask ourselves:

  • What's my purpose? That is, what do I want myself and my students to accomplish and why?
  • What's my strategy for accomplishing that purpose?
  • What's my strategy for integrating factors of learning, motivating, and interacting with ideas?

Although none of this is new for those already engaged with such learning tools, it is new for the majority who aren't. And they are interested in learning about these tools, and they ask good questions about using them. It's just a matter of time for integrating them in learning-oriented ways in their own instruction.

On a sidenote, I like putting my presentations online. I generally leave them up for a while so participants can return and click on the links, plus email me if they have additional questions. If you have a Mac, Sandvox is a great way to put up websites (and presentations) quickly. All you need to do is fill in the content. The program takes care of the design. I used it for my "Why I don't have comments" page, along with "E-Learning", "Second Language Writing", "Kean University Writing Project", and others. You can see others who have used it for their main websites at Sandvoxed. For those who want to simplify their website life, this is one way to do it.