The 1990’s was heralded as the “decade of the brain” and served as an impetus to investigate the elegance and complexity of the brain. From the explosion of neuroscience research, brain-based learning theory emerged as the new paradigm of teaching. It involves teaching with the brain in mind.
Our current expectation for our learning environment differs significantly from how we perceived our learning environments in the past. We now seek meaningful learning experiences where our knowledge and insights are valued. Therefore, we used brain based learning theory, Neuroplasticity and andragogy to substantiate & inform our online learning experiences.
We focused on four brain-based learning principles. They are: The brain searches for meaning and understanding, emotions are critical to learning by the brain, the brain socially constructs knowledge such as through collaboration, and that our brains changes based upon our experiences through neuroplasticity and lifelong learning.
Every human being is driven to search for meaning. To an adult learner it involves connecting experiences of both the past and present in an authentic learning environment. This allows for learning to become more personalized and relevant. Thus far, all of the material that we have been exposed to in this M.ed program has respected our knowledge based and allowed us to make new and relevant connections.
Meaning is also generated when it is contextually embedded and true to real life. For instance, the amount of collaborative work that we do with our colleagues online is a skill we can transfer to the workplace. The creation of meaning also stimulates intrinsic motivation because the learning reflects the learner’s interest. For instance, we enrolled in this M.ed program because we wanted to increase both our personal and professional growth.
Our emotions are produced by the limbic system and regulated by the prefrontal cortex. Our limbic system is also linked with learning and memory. Humans react and learn through the lens of emotional experiences and our limbic system also facilitates the storage and recall of information. In relation to neuroplasticity our emotions make our neuronal networks stronger via our emotional chemicals.
Our emotions can either impede or motivate learning. Positive emotions promote the development of knowledge such as participation in small group settings like breakout groups. Negative emotions can inhibit learning for examples we found that sometimes were more focused on what we were going to say versus concentrating on what was being said.
As you can see from this quote that we came across, collaboration is quite important to brain based learning. We see its importance in several areas of the adult online classroom:1) Much of online learning is based in group work – this creates synergy and a creativity that we may not experience on our own
2) Another benefit is the accessibility of professors anytime from within your own home. They can give guidance to questions or concerns and expert collaboration is very beneficial to learning.3) Finally, in online learning we often present our new understandings to each other. When we teach others, we solidify our own grasp on the material.
Aristotle said, ‘learning is the best prevention for old age.’ This is great for us as adult learners in the online environment because we are lifelong learners. There are several advantages to this including:The reorganization of the brain in a more efficient mannerDecrease in processing speed declineAbility to adapt more quickly to new learning situations
Neuroplasticity is aided through the ways in which learning occurs in the online environment. The first way being: ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together’ – In the online environment we can stimulate both the ears and eyes at the same time and this increases the likelihood we will remember the material presented.
2) Secondly, neuroplasticity occurs at a higher level when material is challenging. We are often presented with critical thinking questions and then asked to present our ideas via technologies we have never even used. This combination of new learning experiences creates a greater chance that new neuronal pathways will form.
We have found issues with these theories in the online environment1) The first being, sometimes teachers will try to apply brain research directly to their classroom without fully understanding its implications. For example, just because research shows that using a SMART board may light up the memory centres in the brain, it does not mean that you should use only the SMART board for memory based learning tasks.
2) An important principal of brain based research is that we learn best through involving our whole bodies. The kinaesthetic aspect of learning is largely negated in the online environment but we are hopeful for what the future may bring.
Brain based learning holds potential for a multitudeof learning environments.We have certainly seen it’s applicability to the adultOnline classroom.
However, brain-based learning is still a baby compared toother educational theories and we need to be carefulwith its implementation in our classrooms.(We thought we would go for the awww factor here)
We thoroughly enjoyed researching this topic and we look forward to the future for what brain based learning can do in our own classrooms. Thanks for listening.
BBL Pecha Kucha
Brain-Based Learning Theory:“The New Paradigm of Teaching”<br />By: Dawn McGuckin & Mubeen Ladhani<br />
The Tale of Two Adult Online Learners<br />Brain-Based Learning<br />Online Learning Environment<br />Adult Learners<br />Mubeen<br />Dawn<br />AQs<br />
12 Principles of Brain-Based Learning & Neuroplasticity<br />Understands & remembers best when facts/skills embedded in spatial memory<br />Neuroplasticity<br />Ours brain change based upon experiences<br />Each brain is unique<br />
The Brain Searches for Meaning & Understanding<br />“Making Meaning”<br />Connecting Experiences: <br />Past & Present<br />Learning becomes personalized & relevant<br />
The Brain Searches for Meaning & Understanding<br />Purpose-Values-Interests reflected in learning<br />Anchors new learning<br />Learn in situations that are “true to real life”<br />
The Brain Socially Constructs Knowledge<br />“If brain-based pedagogy could be summed up in one sentence, it would be; Knowledge should be socially created.”<br />(Cave, Ludwar & Williams, 2006, p. 3)<br />
The Brain Socially Constructs Knowledge<br />=<br />Solidification of Knowledge<br />
Neuroplasticity & Lifelong Learning<br />‘Learning is the best prevention for old age.’<br /> - Aristotle<br />(OECD, 2007, p. 49)<br />
Neuroplasticity & Lifelong Learning<br />“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” (Doidge, 2007, p. 63)<br />
Neuroplasticity & Lifelong Learning<br />Neuroplasticity occurs at a higher level when <br />material is challenging.<br />
Critique<br />Research should not be applied directly to the classroom.<br />
Critique<br />We learn best when we involve our whole body.<br />
Concluding Thoughts<br />Brain-based learning holds potential for a multitude of learning environments.<br />
Concluding Thoughts<br />We must be cognisant however that brain-based research is still a baby.<br />