Discovering Resources For: The Brain And Learning

Doctors, psychologists, and theorists of all kinds have explored the physical brain for insights into the learning process for as long as there have been tools to study the brain, for obvious reasons.  This field of study, neuroscience, has grown over the years.  Recent studies have successfully analyzed basic physiological functions of learning.  Currently, the insights gained from neuroscience, such as the existence of artistic / logical halves of the brain, are not yet directly applicable to creating instruction (“Right-brain” instruction, for example, is less significant of a tactic when we understand that both sides of the brain are always working at the same time.) (Omrod, Schunk, Greedler, 2009.)

Regardless, the field of neuroscience is worth keeping an eye on, as more discoveries will undoubtedly be made.  Let’s take a look at two sites devoted to this subject:

Sharp Brains

This web source contains a wealth of resources devoted to brain function as relates to learning, written by professionals in the field.  Clicking the link will lead you to an article by Dr. Pascale Michelon that explores the adaptability, or plasticity, of the brain – how it changes to suit major new stimuli throughout life.  The article is rooted in scholarly ideas and references, and is furthermore linked to 15 other articles on neuroplasticity which were rated highly by Sharp Brains.  The site is constantly updated with new articles and ideas that reflect the same organization, often linking to other related articles of interest.  For a free resource, Sharp Brains seems to be a consistent gateway into fresh ideas in the field of applied neuroscience.

Society for Neuroscience

When doing research on new ideas and theories for instructional design, it always helps to ask, “How does this information apply to creating training materials?  Will my design profess profit from this idea?”  Sources devoted purely to neuroscience like this one here cater to brain specialists, with articles and journal entries that are written at a high level with lots of scientific jargon.  Furthermore, a generalized neuroscience source like this requires more targeted searching, which means more time and energy spent.  Stick to specialized sites like the first for a more targeted experience.

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

Plugging Into The ISD Blog World

News travels fast in our day and age, doesn’t it?  And thanks to blogs, it comes from more sources than ever before.  Looking for a fresh perspective on an obscure field, an esoteric skill set, or your favorite pastime?  Blog sites like this one right here (wordpress.com) bring the power of the newscaster to any user with internet savvy and a phone line.  What a wonder to know that professionals and enthusiasts can create their own content vessel and share their wisdom with the world, all in a matter of minutes.  And now, this guy knows it too.

Follow my journey as I learn the ins and outs of a vital and hotly growing educational field called Instructional Design (ISD).  This field revolves around a wonderful purpose: to transform thousands of necessary skills into training that targets learners on -their- specific level, where they learn best.   Where does my journey begin? Where it should: by following others who have mastered the field and have unique and insightful experience to share.  So, to start with, here are a few ISD blogs I’ll be watching and that you should consider watching too!

 Teacher Rogers

This blog features expository writings and innovative reflections on core concepts of learning and education.  The author is well spoken and does well to cite multiple scholarly sources in her writings, a must for giving a solid basis to her works.  The blog is also pretty to look at and serves as what I feel is a great example for early bloggers looking to make their content appetizing and readable.  She also writes about her dissertation here, which is on the subject of – wait for it – using Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games as a computer based vessel for language learning.  What a mind-blowing concept!  Given my personal interest in gaming and how it and other computer based platforms can further the field of education, I feel I’ll be following this blog quite closely.

Manudelearner

Our next blog provides a unique perspective into the ISD world that aims to arm aspiring designers with background knowledge and insight.  Content so far focuses on the writing processes and the importance of language mastery and affluence in technical (explanatory) writing.  Scholarly citations are non-existent, which is not an evil thing.  When taken with a grain of salt, I feel the information in this blog will contribute to the overall whole of what will become my ISD knowledge base.

Cathy Moore

I feel I’ve saved the best for last.  Just one look into this designer’s blog will spark your curiosity and engage you in a sacred place inside where both she and I believe every ISD needs to be engaged – How to write instruction for people.  Because when you get right down to it, who is the real client?  Is it the learner?  Or is it the unchecked box?  The writing, imagery, and messages in this blog’s many postings are compelling, engaging, and will get you thinking about how truly silly some of the misconceptions of designing instruction really are.  While multiple posts do not feature scholary citations, the information is so substantive, engaging, and current with the theme of  ISD literature that it’s difficult to be critical of that.  How did I find her blog?  From a web search that led me directly to a post that became an instant favorite: How to become an instructional designer.  If you’re an aspiring ISD and you check none of these other links, check this one.  It’s very good advice.