Blogs on the Brain and Learning

While looking for blogs to discuss in this post, I discovered that it is Brain Awareness Week (March 10 -16, 2014).  Therefore, to celebrate I have selected two that focus on the brain and learning. The first one, the Brain-Based Learning blog, is one of many great blogs that can be found on Edutopia. This blog focuses on understanding how the brain works and ways to use that knowledge to improve the learning process.  The blog posts are contributed by a number of brain and learning experts. One example post is ‘Move your Body, Grow Your Brain’ about studies indicating that students are more focused on learning when exercise and movement is incorporated into the school day. Another post ‘Five-Minute Film Festival: Learning and the Brain’ includes a set of videos that are not only informative but also very entertaining. Topics range from seven common myths about the brain to a teenage explanation of his metacognitive strategies. This blog is a valuable resource for teachers who want to improve their teaching methods using practical strategies based on brain research. Although the posts have an education focus, there is also great information for training professionals as well.

The second blog/website is BrainBased Learning hosted by Eric Jensen, teacher, author and current PhD student in Human Development from Fielding Graduate University. The blog covers topics in brain-based learning and teaching. It would take some time to read through all of the useful posts on this blog. One that caught my eye immediately is titled “The Best Learning Motivator Ever!”  It describes research indicating that feedback is one of the best motivators to student achievement.  Practical applications for using feedback in teaching are also given.  This site should be very useful for anyone interested in practical teaching strategies that have a solid research foundation.

Blogs on Brain-Based Learning. (n.d.).Edutopia. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/blogs/beat/brain-based-learning

Brain-based Learning  (n.d.). Jensen Learning. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.jensenlearning.com/news/

Recommended Instructional Design Blogs

For an assignment in my learning theory course, I was asked to recommend at least three blogs I feel will be relevant to my work as an instructional design professional. This wasn’t necessarily an easy task as blogging is quite popular among members of the instructional design community. In fact, there are so many blogs on the subject it could take weeks to do a thorough job sorting through them all.  It’s not really the large number that makes it difficult, but rather the large amount of useful information they contain.  I found myself spending a lot of time reading and finally had to pick some and leave the others for another time. The following three blogs are the ones I selected:

  1. Lessons on Learning Blog. This blog is hosted by the learning design company Bottom-Line Performance (BLP). BLP has been creating custom learning solutions since 1995 for corporate, government, non-profit, and industry customers. Initially, I didn’t want to select a blog from a commercial entity but was impressed by BLPs mission statement – ‘We don’t train people. We create solutions that engage people and motivate them to learn.’ I also liked their philosophy of giving back to their local and global community. In line with that philosophy, they share their knowledge with the learning community via their blog. The blog posts are high quality and backed up by their experiences and research in the learning field.
  2. Experiencing Elearning. I chose this blog because it is written by a freelance Instructional Design Practitioner, Christy Tucker. Since someday I might want to venture out into freelance work, I think it will be useful to read posts from someone with that perspective. I also like Christy’s interest in using storytelling to make learning more engaging. Her posts are well-written and fairly regular, ranging from one to four posts per month.
  3. Will at Work Learning Blog. The blog author, Will Thalheimer is described on his Typepad profile as “a learning expert, researcher, instructional designer, business strategist, speaker, and writer. Dr. Thalheimer has worked in the learning-and-performance field since 1985. Will holds a BA from the Pennsylvania State University, an MBA from Drexel University, and a PhD in Educational Psychology: Human Learning and Cognition from Columbia University.” I think this description says it all. I look forward to learning from Will Thalheimer’s breadth of expertise in the field of instructional design.

I’m also including two runner-ups on my inaugural list – eLearning Learning and  the Social Learning Blog. The first one, eLearning Learning is a blog from Training Magazine Network that compiles posts from blogs within the elearning industry.  I have subscribed to its feeds for a few years and just wish I had more time to read all of the interesting articles on it. The Social Learning Blog  covers subjects such as social learning, technical writing, and change management. Contributors include experienced instructional designers and trainers as well as company leadership. This blog is also hosted by a commercial company but I found their focus on organizational change management interesting so decided to follow it for a while to find out if I found their posts useful or not.