A Reflection


            Howard Gardner developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences and they resonated with me.  But what surprised me most from him were his three primary lessons for educators Individualize, Pluralize, and to Drop the term “styles” (2013).  The last lesson of dropping the term styles stood out to me.  I have found when speaking with SMEs and some instructors they either have no understanding of learning styles or they latch on to the concept as the only way to approach training.  Pashler, McDaniel, Rohre and Bjork point out that “…there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice” (2009).  This has been a common discussion point for me when creating needs analyses throughout my career.

Howard Gardner’s Eight Multiple Intelligences (Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist) provide a framework to understand one’s strengths when it comes to learning.  Thomas Armstrong’s MI Inventory offers a way to assess one’s own Multiple Intelligences to apply to their teaching (2009).  I was surprised at how I identified with many of the Multiple Intelligences (especially Interpersonal and Naturalist), but not surprised that I was low on the Logical-Mathematical abilities.  Math has always been a challenge for me.

John Keller’s MVP (Motivation, Volition and Performance) Model (2008) has proven useful to me in my career.  When considering how best to approach a train the trainer course the MVP model of motivation, volition, and performance helped provide the framework from external inputs to outputs.  Gagne’s nine events of instruction helps me to explain how to the SME how the course should flow, while the MVP model helps the SME (in this case) understand how to move the learner along the path.


Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Garnder, H. (2013). Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles’ – The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/16/howard-gardner-multiple-intelligences-are-not-learning-styles/

Keller, J. M. (2008). An integrative theory of motivation, volition, and performance. Technology, Instruction, Cognition, and Learning, 6(2), 79-104. Retrieved from http://www.oldcitypublishing.com/FullText/TICLfulltext/TICL6.2fulltext/TICLv6n2p79-104Keller.pdf

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105-119. doi:10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x




Learning Theories, Learning Styles and Learning Lukes…

I, like a lot of other people, like to learn new things.  I enjoy the process of learning as well as the acquisition of new information.  When I learn a new thing, I feel accomplished and content for having grown a new part of my “self.”  Learning is the blissful process of demystifying the world around me. The only problem is the more we learn, the more we realize that we barely know anything.  The process itself is a journey and not a destination.

I have recently embarked on a new “learning journey” that has caused me to look at concepts I was once familiar with in a new way.  I started channeling my learning efforts in new directions (if you are reading this, you are seeing one of those directions) and have found unique places those directions have taken me.

Sure in the past I was aware of learning theories; behaviorists like bells and dogs, cognitivists are safe on planes because of their “black box,” constructivists make up their own meaning, social constructivists do too – but only in groups, and the adult learner is a new type of animal that must be studied through the lens of andragogy (kind of like pedagogy only it can stay up late and enjoy alcoholic beverages if so inclined.)

But knowing of learning theories and understanding them are two different things.  I’d say I have a better understanding, but the pursuit of knowledge never ends it seems.  Everything I read gives me another breadcrumb to follow until I realize it is 2 a.m., I have to work tomorrow, and there is a mess of crumbs all over the place.

If I were to construct my own meaning from all of this I would focus my efforts on how I learn and how I can use this knowledge to build better courses.  After all, if I keep everything in the “black box” the intent of learning does me no good.

This all has got me wondering how I myself learn.  One of the breadcrumbs I ran into along the way (many many years ago at) was something called the memletics learning styles inventory, and it lived on my desktop as an excel file ready to let anyone who cared to find out know their learning style.

luke's memletics
The Millennium Falcon of how Luke learns


Today the learning styles inventory can be found online at https://learning-styles-online.com and still provides interesting insight into what your learning style may be.  It also gives you a nice little graph which is handy to have on hand at dinner parties or social gatherings of your choosing.  It turns out that I ranked relatively high on the verbal style so I guess I learn best by telling myself things.

All in all understanding learning theories will make me a better instructional designer, and understanding my learning style (and learning styles in general) will help my own learning journey (and maybe design better content too…)


Make Sure You’re Connected- Connectivism on the mind

Luke's Learning Connections

When thinking of Learning theories, the mind tends to gravitate towards Behaviorism, Cognitivism or Constructivism.  Ahhh the classics!  The be all and end all of learning theory… right?  That’s all, there is nothing more to see here folks, everything has been considered …right?  …right?

….Connectivism you say?  What’s that?

George Siemens’ theory of Connectivism states:

connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired and the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. Also critical is the ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday” (Siemens, 2005, para. 24).

Connectivism is comprised of three different components:

Chaos Theory – basically unrelated elements when studied together create a pattern that shows relevance beyond the elements themselves. (Salmon, 1999, para. 5).

Importance of Networks – in a nutshell we no longer truly personally experience everything when learning something new, so we create connections between entities, or networks.  (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008.)

Complexity and Self-Organization – a neat concept where complexity is a collection of “stuff” that interacts with other “stuff” through the fact that the “stuff’s” interactions or connections are not necessarily linear but when in a system these things tend to self-organize when modelled. (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008.)

I thought to myself, “Self how is this useful to me?”  If you were wondering I did not answer myself… I did however put together a mind map of what I would consider my learning connections (above).  This was an interesting exercise in trying to create order through the chaos.

As I have gotten older I realized that my learning connections are always evolving – I constantly seek meaning in all interactions I have.  Digital tools have given me opportunities to learn more information than I could have imagined 20 years ago.  Today if I have a question about anything I can grab my phone and look up almost anything.  My network today has gotten much larger than I could have ever imagined and the world has gotten much smaller.



Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Connectivism

Salmon, V. (1999). Chaos in the composition classroom: Why do some classes fail to function?. Inquiry, 4, Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www.vccaedu.org/inquiry/inquiry-fall99/i-42-salmon.html

Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm




How our Brains get fed! Multimodal overview with consideration for information processing.

When designing course content, it is important to consider how the brain itself takes in information.  Understanding how information is presented to the brain helps us to create effective learning events.

We receive external information through sight, sound, or touch.  This information is received and held in Sensory Registers (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, pg. 49. 2009. Orey, 2001) in its original sensory form until pattern recognition occurs.  Pattern recognition assigns meaning to the input all in the blink of an eye – or rather a fraction of a second (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, pg. 49, 2009.)

Imagine you are in a flight simulator.  This simulator has consoles matching an airframe, windows showing a simulated environment and indicators providing the leaner information (visual sensory register).  The simulator also has a radio for the learner to communicate to a simulated tower and buzzers responding to events that happen during the simulation (auditory sensory register).  Now consider all the controls, switches, knobs and buttons (tactile sensory register).  These inputs enhance the learning event and aid in learner retention by way of a multimodal simulation (van Erp, & Werkhoven, 2003).

Van Erp and Werkhoven’s Multimodal Perception and Simulation posits that “our brains merge the information derived from the various sensory systems into a coherent and unambiguous multisensory percept of the world.”  Van Erp and Werkhoven describe four benefits of multimodal human-computer interaction:

  • First, multimodal interfaces yield more robust performance.
  • Second, multimodal interfaces can reduce mental load.
  • Third, multimodal HCI has the potential to greatly expand the accessibility of virtual worlds to a larger diversity of users by adequately selecting the most appropriate combinations of modalities with respect to age, skill, style, impairments, and language
  • Fourth, multimodal presentation can promote new forms of HCI that were not previously available.

Dr. Margaret Sermund-Clikeman discusses the influence of brain maturation with regards to learning readiness in The Importance of matching instruction to a child’s maturity level, but Dr. Sermund-Clikeman also delves into where learning occurs.  Once information has been received through a sensory register it’s up to the brain to make sense of the information and assign meaning to it.  From around age 12 to the 20s the frontal white matter of our brains further refines and develops – this part of the brain is imperative for higher cognitive functions. Experience contributes to further development.  This part of the brain is largely responsible for how meaning is applied to information and sorts out how to deal with it.

In designing lessons, and course content an awareness of how the brain receives and processes information with consideration for age and experience, gives us insight into how content can be structured for the best information retention.  An awareness of how information moves from sensory registers to the frontal lobe helps Instructional Designers create more effective learning events.



Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York, NY: Pearson.

Orey, M. (2001). Information processing. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Information_processing

Semrud-Clikeman, M. (n.d) Research in Brain Function and Learning. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/education/k12/brain-function.aspx

van Erp, J., Werkhoven, P.  (2003). Multimodal Perception and Simulation Human information processing: Vision, memory, and attention. American Psychological Association, 227-242.

Instructional Design – Handy Websites

The first step in finding information about Instructional Design usually is a google search.  Having spent many hours at the “University of Google” myself

Here are a few sites I have found myself returning to most often (this is by no means a comprehensive list, but for now I’m adhering to the “rule of three”):



Big Dog Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition has been online proudly since July 13, 1995 and has been one of my favorite go to sites for years.  From ADDIE to Visualization Don Clark (retired Army E-7 now Instructional System Design Consultant) has captured and commented on almost any performance improvement and training concept there is.  Whether you are new to the field of Training and/or Instructional Designing or you are a seasoned veteran of the learning domains this site proves to be an exceptional resource time and time again.



Doing things faster, better, stronger (oh and did I mention faster?) is the name of the game in today’s Instructional Design world.  To help Instructional Designers keep pace with the market, Articulate, makers of the popular elearning creation tool Storyline, maintain a blog and robust online community (https://community.articulate.com ) to assist with not just Storyline concerns but also common instructional design conundrums, the rapid-elearning blog is an extension of the articulate community.  While this rapid-elearning blog is a bit outdated, it still provides you with good tips and ideas to help manage elearning projects successfully.



No conversation about Instructional Design websites is complete without http://www.instructionaldesign.org . The sheer volume of information on this site makes it invaluable to burgeoning Instructional Designers and veterans alike.  Don’t let the austere design put you off – the focus here is on substance, style simply follows.   Never will I say that this site is unpleasant to look at or difficult to use, quite the opposite, its focus on content has liberated this page of glut and elevated it to an elegant font of information.  Here you will find the mechanics that make the Instructional Design machine move; the why to the how; and the building blocks of sound course design.  Before you can become a tastemaker or define the next big trend, you need to understand the fundamentals – here you will find those fundamentals all living together under one roof.