Learning theories in practice/Introduction

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Purpose[edit]

This book, "The Practice of Learning Theories" (The POLT), has its roots or origins in two graduate level classes on learning theories and instructional design principles taught by Dr. Mimi Miyoung Lee at the University of Houston and Dr. Curt Bonk at Indiana University during the fall of 2007. Drs. Lee and Bonk decided against replicating wikibooks on learning theories and learning theorists since Dr. Dale Fowler, now with Central Michigan University, had already coordinated those (see [[1]] and [[2]]. Instead, they showed those books to their students and had them edit them. In addition, they had their students critique an existing wikibook on "Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology" coordinated by Michael Orey at the University of Georgia (for their critiques, see [[3]]/ and for that wikibook, see [[4]]). So, in effect, this was perhaps the first class to critique a wikibook, edit a wikibook, and write their own wikibook. There are many lessons learned from that process that we will try to document in a journal article sometime in 2008.

As you will see from exploring this wikibook, Drs. Lee and Bonk believed that implementing learning theory and instructional design ideas was critical to learning and internalizing ideas about learning; hence, this particular wikibook on the practice of learning theories. Having students doing something with their new knowledge and learning was important or at least having students plan how they would implement it when teaching. Many of the chapters have stories or examples that help explain or illustrate what the chapter is about. Some have real world stories from experiences as teachers and others have examples from the authors' experiences as learners. We hope you learn from each example, model, story, framework, and idea in this book.

There were many language education students in the class at Indiana University; hence, many chapters related to that topic. Please feel free to add to, edit, or modify this book in any way. The sky is the limit--who knows, there could be hundreds of chapters in this book in a year with many excellent examples of how learning theories are being practiced around the world. We welcome your support and contributions. Enjoy this book!

Ending the POLT is Not so Easy![edit]

Can a book like the POLT ever be ended? Can we truly stop applying learning theories? Can we think of all the ways in which learning theories can be applied today in December 2007 and have no more ideas in 2008 or 2009 or 2015 later on? Certainly not! Scholars and practitioners will continually dream up new learning theories and instructional design models. There is no doubt that we will!!! At the same time, teachers, trainers, and other educators will come up with innovative and adventurous ways to apply them. As a result, if people continue to edit, add to, or modify this book, it will never end. The POLT will live on and on and on.

We are ALL practitioners of learning theories. We practice them with our students, with our children, with our friends, with our relatives, and with all others we encounter. We apply learning theories in both formal and informal settings on a daily, if not minute-to-minute, basis. Stop for a second and record these and then add them to this book. Your experiences and insights in the application of learning theories is always going to be welcome here!

As was mentioned in the introduction to the POLT, this book sprang forth from graduate learning theories and instructional design courses taught by Dr. Mimi Lee at the University of Houston and Dr. Curt Bonk at Indiana University. We hope you have enjoyed reading different sections of this book. We welcome others to add to it in unique ways; especially, college and university classes related to learning theories and instructional design. We realize that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of additional perspectives that need to be added to this book. We welcome yours.

We look forward to coming back in a month, a year, or perhaps even a decade and seeing the insightful as well as the mysterious ways in which learning theories and instructional design models can be applied in real world settings on this planet, be they in religious organizations, museums, educational institutions, corporate training settings, or even in political situations. That is what makes learning theories so much fun to use and reflect on. We all are learners and we all push on with our own unique strengths and interests to apply learning theories.

As a final note, it will also be important to know how this book is being used. If you have a unique application or idea related to this book, please let us know about it. We always love to hear stories of how free and open access resources such as wikibooks are used for education around the globe as well as ideas for new wikibooks on similar topics or other collaboration ideas. If you have a unique or interesting story (or any story for that matter), feel free to contact Dr. Bonk at Indiana University (see [[5]]). As indicated, ending the "The Practice of Learning Theories" (i.e., the POLT) is never easy, so consider this the end of this sentence, not the end of the opportunities that await each of us in applying learning theories.