Web Conference – article discussion

In web conference with my learning partner, Mark, we discussed both our trends and roles articles. Mark’s article on the roles of the adult educator explored a case study on mentorship for apprentices. This article emphasizes the importance of application, as was mentioned in my article also. Similar to my article, we discovered discussions on all 5 points of adult learner success.

Mark’s article on the trends in adult education was again a case study discussion, and focused on the emergence of pre-apprenticeship programs. Similar to my article, this new trend seeks to remove adult learners from the classroom and virtual worlds. In the case of Mark’s article, this was done by immersing unemployed inner-city adults in an entry-to-apprenticeship setting with a very practical focus.

I found this conversation and sharing of ideas enlightening and validating. Mark and I found striking similarities in what our learners require from us in our role as adult educators, and we discovered fascinating new emergent trends in our field. The most striking lesson I learned from Mark’s explanation of his articles was in the form of student feedback on one of his case study articles. The learner’s expressed the need for one-on-one mentorship due to the ability to move more quickly through the information. Traditionally, educators have paced the lessons in classrooms for some of the slower learners, since we needed to ensure that all learners were able to grasp all the content. I was surprised to learn that students enjoy the faster pace of individual learning, and find it frustrating to have to wait for others to catch up. It is encouraging to know that the learners are generally eager to absorb more from their mentors.

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Roles of Adult Educators

See the “Reviewing the Evidence on How Adult Students Learn” article.

Being relatively new to the proper terminology used in adult education, I felt the need to explore the advantages and disadvantages of the often-coined term “andragogy”. This article offered an unbiased exploration of pedagogy and andragogy, with practical application of the key aspects of andragogy. My role as facilitator is now laid out tangibly. Adult learners require these five key areas to be successful:

  1. Application
  2. Self-esteem
  3. Background
  4. Motivation
  5. Environment

The article is also a comfort, in that it confirms that the role of the facilitator is not an invisible one. Many articles appear so learner-focused, that it seems the educator is to be a silent, unseen force that allows the student to learn. This article reassures me that my role is still vital, that my intuition and actions are still what ultimately affects the learning of the adult student, and encourages me to embrace this new era of adult education.

Trends in Adult Education

See “Greening the Net Generation” article.

Having read one article after another on online education and facilitating the adult learner in this digital age, I craved a contrasting view on this overpowering trend. This article on outdoor education with the integration of electronic media is a refreshing balance on the needs of an adult human being, rather than just an isolated focus on the adult as a student. Though this integration will prove extremely difficult in some areas of instruction, I feel it worthy to explore. The “Net generation”, as coined by the article’s author, has always known the internet. We have always been connected, been online, been inside. There must be a way to encourage our adult learners to connect with the outdoors. E-learning is not so powerful that it can negate the need for a connection with nature. My own area on instruction has always been based indoors, but I do see an opportunity for outdoor exploration. I facilitate an online course on ethical theories that contains a considerable component of discussion and debate. This might be just the opportunity our students need to get out and explore the world, and then combine this real-world experience with the technology we all know and love by creating a multi-media presentation. And how is it fortunate that the course runs in the summer. Is this fate?

Lesson Planning

Here are my rationales for 5 lesson planning components:

 

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Link: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/bloomtax.htm

As a basic introduction to lesson planning, this site offers a valuable synopsis of Bloom’s taxonomy.  I was able to understand the evolution of this theory and through many helpful links, use these domains of hierarchies to effectively divide lessons, and then structure the learning.  This site has given me the insight to understand that learners will build upon each category once they are comfortable.  That empowers me to allow learners individualized growth through the stages.  The revised model of the cognitive domain, adding creativity to the pyramid, sparks possibilities of applied critical thinking for the ever-evolving medical practice.

 

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

Link: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/dixon.pdf

This review of positive online learning explores how students felt connected virtually.  I found this appealing since this is the setting in which I mainly teach.  This eye-opening article focused my attention on the need for personal involvement from me as facilitator, and surprisingly stated that learners didn’t feel the need to connect as much with one another.  Most learners preferred individual tasks to promote learning, and felt that collaboration was best left for discussions.  I will use this awareness to tailor assignments to be self-paced and individualized, and focus my collaboration efforts on discussion groups to promote efficacy.

 

Motivational Techniques

Link: http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/how-to-motivate-students-in-the-online-learning-environment/

This blog provides extremely helpful and practical tips on how to motivate online learners.  In contrast to what I had encountered previously, the author recommends providing feedback within 24 hours, rather than 48.  Also, facilitators are encouraged to be available for support consistently so that students know they can count on that support.  I will also use these tips to remember to provide “constructive and personalized” feedback, and to acknowledge academic and personal challenges the learners might be experiencing.  I do use weekly news items, which are also encouraged in order to motivate and engage students.

 

Assessment
Link:
http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2012/03/01/02formative.h05.html

The feed forward notion is a novel concept to me.  When hearing the term in the introduction to this assignment, I was fascinated.  This article offers a succinct outline of this assessment method with a link to improve formative assessments.  I’ll use this advice to tailor instruction around feedback.  The article suggests a more helpful approach to feedback which will help learners grow, as well as reflection in instructors to model future instruction around the feedback.  I do use components of this feed forward notion in exam reviews, but will use it more thoroughly to promote understanding of challenging concepts.

 

Instructional Process/Strategies

Link: http://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/lt/resources/handouts/EngagingAdultLearners.pdf

This helpful explanation of “non-traditional” learners offers many to-the-point recommendations to engage adult students.  Most importantly, it reminded me that adult learners must see value in what they learn in order to be motivated to learn.  Knowing this, I will aim to insert real-life applications into online course content, and relate lessons with mini simulations or anecdotes.  Doing so, I will aim to engage students to take responsibility for their learning for their own benefit.  This document also reinforces the Socratic or question-based approach to facilitating learning, reminding me to keep asking questions to promote inquisitive curiosity in learners.