Instructional Design

21st Century Classrooms with 20th Century Learning Theories

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The 20th century brought forth several changes in the field of education. These changes include teaching methods and pedagogies, teaching and learning theories, and new perspectives on where America’s education is heading. In the 21st century, classrooms called online classrooms or virtual classrooms are emerging in vast numbers, all accessible 24/7, across towns and cities and certainly across the nations. Still, how much can 21st century classrooms benefit from 20th century theories?

21st Century Classrooms and the Communication Theory

Several scholars from the 20th century were proponents of the communication theory which is associated with the information technology. The long list of these scholars and theorists includes, among others, Hovland, Schramm, and Gallup. Hovland pioneered the study of communication and its psychological influence leading to the art of persuasion (Saettler, 2004), while Schramm introduced mass communications education (Saettler, 2004). Last but not least, George Gallup introduced the applications of “public polling” (Saettler, 2004, p. 275). While newspapers, radio, and television started the dissemination of mass media communications in the 20th century, the 21st century communications theory was channeled through the Internet (Saettler, 2004).

The art of persuasion is prevalent in the Internet today. For example, pop-up advertisements are similar to television advertisements, since they also have the same key components i.e.: the actors, the music, and the script all contribute to the art of persuasion. Schramm’s introduction of communication in higher education is prevalent in all aspects of synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid online classrooms. While Gallup polls are still utilized, the Internet has websites that can provide feedback, ratings, live feeds or comments.  Examples of these websites are Yelp, wikispaces, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Behaviorism and Cognitivism in the 21st Century Classrooms

Reinforcement is the primary characteristic of behaviorism (Saettler, 2004). In the 21st century, recurring advertisements on television and Internet are strong examples of behaviorism. In higher education, media players can be viewed repeatedly for knowledge acquisition. The examples provided are strong indicators that behaviorism is still intricately woven into the 21st century mass communications and technological advances. Likewise, individualized learning or “Individualized Prescribed Instruction or IPI” is still widely used (Saettler, 2004, p. 304). Online classrooms are accessible 24/7, so students can study the materials at their own pace and in their own time.

Cognitivism attributes learning as a process developed through mental constructions (Saettler, 2004). In cognitivism, the student is the primary agent in his learning process. Knowledge acquisition is attributed to both long and short-term memories, repetitive behavior or patterns, and assimilation (Saettler, 2004). In 1973, Anderson and Bower developed the model called “human associative memory or HAM" wherein learning is based on memory of “facts, time, predicate (or subject), and objects (or relationships)” (Saettler, 2004, p. 327). Semantic models include “production systems, active structural networks, and propositional network” (Saettler, 2004, p. 327).

The use of technology based on cognitive principles provided different and simpler ways of doing things. Memorization can be enhanced through visual representations and audio sounds. Networks are connected via Internet. The principles of using memory, repetitive behavior and patterns, and assimilations improved over the past several years. The field of education utilizes technology to support cognitive principles as technology is utilized and improved year after year to enhance learning. Finally, the student-centered teaching pedagogy and peer-to-peer and peer-to-instructor connections are attributed to cognitive psychology and cognitive learning principles. Connections are made through social networks, blogs, and online discussions.References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). The impact of technology on learning. Baltimore: Thornburg, D.Saettler, P. (2004). The evolution of American educational technology. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

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