Sunday, May 15, 2011

Brain theories and implications for instructional designers

For an instructional designer, the function and capacity of the human mind is very important as it has a profound effect on learning. How the brain develops and how it organizes, processes, stores and recalls information has serious implications for teaching and learning. There are many amazing websites on the internet that explore the wonders of the human mind and here are few of my favorites:

John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist who has been studying the human brain and how it organizes information. This website really explores Dr. Medina’s twelve principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Medina and have attended his professional development sessions and witnessed his passion for the workings of the human mind. What I like about this website is that it contains some very good videos that discuss the brain from childhood and through adulthood and the implications it has for learning. Explore the section on attention and Dr. Medina explains that the human mind is not capable of multi-tasking, a controversial idea for today’s learners who like to listen to music, text, surf the internet and write a paper at the same time, and so this poses some interesting questions for instructional designers.  Check out the news section of the website for some very thought-provoking articles.

The learning solutions magazine provides a wealth of information for the instructional designer on how to create effective e-learning courses. This particular article provides specific, research based strategies that the instructional designer can use to develop an effective curriculum. What I like about this article is that it explains clearly the findings of brain research and then translates these into tangible strategies. The article then gives a detailed description of the strategies and how they assist the learner in storing and processing the information. This is definitely worth checking out.

The learning compass website is an informative site about brain research and its effects on education.  Although this website may seem more appropriate for math and science teachers, there are many parts to this site that would apply to any course. My favorite is the chart on research and implications on teaching. There is a very good section on ways people learn; it looks at students from kindergarten all the way through to twelfth grade. This section has some good advice that can be utilized by instructional designers.

An article in the Maricopa Community College publication sparked my interest as it looks at brain based research and whether it is just a fad. This article has some very sound advice for educators on the dangers of implementing research before clinical trials have taken place.  The article then goes on to give a general list of acceptable research findings and implications for educational use.

This is the journal of an associate professor at the Colorado State University. I wanted to include this because she links brain research to online instruction. The journal is very informative about memory and retrieval, learning Styles, and the role of emotion. Each of these sections has some very lucrative strategies that are relevant to online instruction.  There is a section on brain based instructional suggestions that contains good tips for educators.

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