R2D2 - Not just for Star Wars Anymore

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Week 2 in the MOOC I'm taking introduces the R2D2 Model (which is not the same model as instructional design models with the same name):

Read (Auditory and Verbal Learners)
Reflect (Reflective Learners)
Display (Visual Learners)
Do (Tactile, Kinesthetic, Exploratory Learners)

Dr. Bonk mentions something that I first heard in my Mind, Brain & Education class (EDPSY 597A) that may be pretty controversial in learning design circles:  learning styles and multiple intellegence theories lack empirical support.  Or, as I heard it explained:  They are not scientifically sound.  They are neuro-myths.  So, what do we do with that?  I would echo what Bonk (who has a background in educational psychology) says.  These educational theories (that may more correctly be referred to as educational philosophies) can and should inform the kinds of activities that should be included in course design.  However, we need to be careful about labeling people with certain learning styles or intelligences, because though we all have certain preferences, talents and strengths, our brains are not limited in this way. 

Here's a great YouTube video about why learning styles don't exist.  You don't have to click the link, but it's a nearly 7 minute video that's worth watching.  It helps to explain the problem learning styles present from the perspective of neuroscience and is narrated by cognitive psychologist/neuroscientist/professor Daniel Willingham from the University of VA. 

Now that I've opened up that can of worms...on to R2D2 as it relates to the content of the MOOC I am taking.  R2D2 is a way to emphasize more reflective activities in online classes.  Interestingly, although Bonk debunks learning styles as theory, he attaches each element of R2D2 to particular learning styles.  

Following are some activities that were suggested as they relate to R2D2.
Read:
  • Wikibook or Wikipedia editing or critiques
  • Course Announcements
  • Online articles databases
  • Online crossword puzzles
  • Online instructor Q & A
  • Online scavenger hunt

Reflect:
  • Individual blogging
  • Respond to blog posts/discussion forums of classmates
  • Workplace and field reflections
  • Case study reflection and discussion
  • Online debates and mock trials

Display:
  • Videos for clinical education
  • Medical animations
  • World Trends and indices (e.g. Worldmaper)
  • Interactive maps
  • 3D sketches (e.g. Google SketchUp)
  • Wordle
  • Online news stories
  • Timeline tools
  • Educational videos (e.g. TED)
  • Concept mapping

Do:
  • Podcast productions and shows
  • Paired article critiques in blogs
  • Virtual microscopes (e.g. www.mededu.or.kr)
  • Virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life)
  • Simulation games
  • Visual presentations (e.g. Prezi)
  • Singing YouTube summaries (gotta love it!!)
  • Survey, research andMarket Analysis
  • Student class documentaries

"When thoughtfully designed, content delivered from this perspective should be more enriching for learners.  The R2D2 model provides a framework for more engaging, dynamic, and responsive teaching and learning in online environments" (Bonk & Zhang, 2006, p. 249).  

I think these models offer great ways to remember how important it is to be creative in the design process if we really care about learning beyond just "getting by" in the classroom.  The incorporation of R2D2, TEC-VARIETY or a plethora of other models helps contribute to good pedagogy.  Unfortunately, there are too many classes in educational settings everywhere where students and faculty alike can squeak by without really being engaged and making meaning out of the course content.  My goal is to do what I can to prevent any "stuck-in-a-rut, going-through-the-motions because I need it to graduate" courses.  This challenge, I'm afraid, will be easier said (blogged) than done.  Much like horses and water, you can lead an instructor to tools and theories, but you can't make them use or adopt them.  That's a challenge for every instructional designer (ID), everywhere.  It stands to reason that the success of tool and theory adoption increases as the ID's trust and credibility increases.  

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