The Neuroscience of Learning: How to Connect Brain Mapping with Learning and Technology to Enhance Learning

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Together we will explore how the brain learns and apply those concepts to the technology and pedagogical theories that tap into the parts of the brain that enhance learning. Participants will map the parts of the brain to the technology and theories that maximize learning.

Sponsored By


Dr. Karen Srba is the Vice President of Academic & Instructional Technology for American Public University System (APUS). She reports to the President's Chief of Staff. Dr. Srba heads a team of eLearning professionals who design digital, interactive learning content and implements technological strategy for thousands of online courses. Dr.. Srba has over twenty-eight years of experience in systems integration, information security, project management and education. Prior to joining APUS she served as a subject matter expert in project management and was a STEM Innovation Lead and online instructor in Computer Science and Engineering. In addition, Dr. Srba served as a Government Practice Lead and contract manager for over 18 years as a contractor for the Federal Government. She earned her Doctorate Degree in Education Leadership and Management from the University of Pennsylvania and her Master’s Degree in Distance Education Leadership and E-Learning Technology from the University of Maryland University College and an undergraduate degree in Management and Technology from University of Maryland. She also earned several certificates in project management, computer science, engineering, psychology and education.

Extended Abstract

Neuroscience and brain learning are not new but recent breakthroughs in technology now allow scientist to map the specific parts of the brain and view how neuro connections in the brain impact short and long term memory and learning. These scientific breakthroughs are driving a new series of degrees and certificate programs at most research universities around the country. Using this research faculty, curriculum developers and instructional designers can use these scientific advancements to understand how certain technologies and learning pedagogy can tap into those neuron connections and stimuli to maximize learning.

Using the work of Dr. James Zull, in “The Art of Changing the Brain” (2002), the brain, and more specifically the cortex has important functions that can be matched with each stage of the learning cycle to enhance learning. The learning cycle consists of, concrete experiences, reflective observation, abstract hypothesis and active testing. The learning cycle is based on the fact that learning experiences are initiated through concrete experience or experiential learning. We can use the map of the brain, previously authenticated and validated by scientist, to determine the methods and technology that best enhances learning. For example, the sensory cortex is the first to receive output from the outside world through the senses such as vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, etc. The sensory cortex aligns with the part of the learning cycle for concrete experiences from the outside world. The sensory cortex takes in the vision, audio/verbal, touch, smell or taste (Zull, 2002).

Next the back integrative cortex makes sense of the information received by pulling together mental visions, remembering previous experiences, analyzing the experience and developing insights about the information received (Zull, 2002). The Frontal Cortex is then responsible for taking the analysis of the information received and literally connecting it with previous experiences and arranging the mental visions to make sense of the information (Zull, 2002). Lastly is the motor cortex which signals the muscles to produce an action based on the mental connections to produce movement or action (Zull, 2002).

In this session, we will explore the brain map to determine how we can use technology and learning pedagogy to produce meaningful learning outcomes for our students. Together we will review the various technologies like adaptive learning, collaboration software, tutorials, simulations and other technology to map the brain to learning activities that can be used to develop online courses.  Using this knowledge and the brain maps we can design courses based on how individuals learn and match technology, and learning activities to enhance learning.

The session will include videos, infographics, and mental visioning activities and collaboration with your colleagues to understand the neuroscience of learning. You will take away a better understanding of how the neuroscience of learning, the learning cycle, technology and online pedagogy work together to ensure learning.