Several extra readings over the past few weeks have enriched my understanding of multiple learning theories, epistemology and ontology.  Ertmer & Newby (1993) aim to fill in the gaps that exist in the knowledge of learning theories.  They examine the critical features of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism and provide examples of how learning occurs within each, some basic assumptions, and how instruction can be structured using each theory. Developing my personal learning theory, my work as an instructor, and future work in instructional design demands that I am knowledgeable about these theories.  In addition to understanding the epistemological foundations of the theories, I need to appropriately diagnose a situation and creatively apply the proper theory to the situation at hand.

Ontology refers to questioning what is true, in general terms, or how theories develop when the context of its use is in learning theories. Epistemology refers to knowledge itself and the methods used to determine what is true, or how people learn when the context of its use is in learning theories.  Ertmer & Newby take an epistemological stance in their comparison of the three theories; they present discourse on how people learn within each learning theory. The important takeaways from this article include: an effective recommendation for an instructional design problem requires an accurate analysis of the problem, interpretation of the theories vary depending on several factors, a designer should be well versed in many theories (1993).  The final takeaway is one that is important to online learning.  Over the past few weeks, the differences in online versus face-to-face classrooms and students has been examined in our synchronous course meetings.  Behaviorism is one theory I have been applying to my online classroom, without labeling it or fully understanding the theory.  It is important to provide norms and expectations in the online classroom.  Due dates, organized modules, contact information, and guidelines for behavior in this environment are examples of these aspects. Creating a climate of learning and respect for all participants are each examples of applying the behaviorism theory within the online classroom. This week I will continue my research on behaviorism, adult learners, and norms within the online classroom to complete my personal learning theory paper.

Ertmer, P. A. & Newby (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly 6(4), 50-71.