Thursday, March 15, 2012

GED Classes on the Moon

This is a kick in the pants for adult education.  Whether you think we need it or not, please listen up.  This post should provoke some questions that require a larger discussion, and that will hopefully start with your comments.  
  • Is the new GED test going to force us to innovate our instruction and delivery of services?
  • Shouldn't we be innovating anyway? 
  • What are the economic incentives for embracing technology? New markets, new funding streams, and an updating of the adult education brand?
  • With our objections, are we protecting our learners' interests, or are we afraid of the responsibility that comes with uprooting our routines and ushering in a renaissance? 
In this 2 minute YouTube clip, we see a dichotomy: two very different attitudes towards technology and innovation, not unlike the ongoing push/pull adult education experiences around the same topic.  Have a listen to Maher vs. Tyson, as well as my take on the matter, and weigh in with your perspective. 


Since the clip has been removed from YouTube, the astrophysicist said of the 60s:
[the space program] transformed the culture in the USA in that decade to be one of innovation and discovery. And when you have that as part of your culture, you innovate. And when you innovate, you are responsible for birthing entire new economies that drive your nation's wealth.
Doesn't that sound good to you? Entire new economies that drive adult education's future? 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's Your Problem?

...and what do you need to solve it? Actually there are probably several problems when it comes to online learning, distance education, and computer based instruction in adult ed.  And all of the things we need that could be potential solutions must be dizzying for adult educators. Paralyzing, even.  Let's talk our way out of this situation. 

I need you to contribute here: 
  • What problems are you facing in adult education?
  • What do you need to solve them? 
Let me help with a few things I hear often:
  • We don't have computers in the classroom. 
  • Our learners don't have internet access. 
  • Students (and teachers) lack the computer skills to make online learning effective. 
  • We can't afford the software licenses.
  • The new GED test is going to exclude many of our learners. 
  • We need online ESOL instruction.
  • Distance learners aren't reportable without a proctored assessment.
Please add your problem to the list with a comment. Or, comment on one of these.  Offer a solution, or a clarification.*  I'll do the same once I see some input from you. (don't make me beg)

*a great way to get topics on my radar for future blogs/podcasts

Monday, March 5, 2012

Introduction, Take One, Two, and Three

Voice Recorder >>

This is a test podcast. Actually, more like a trial run at an introduction.  A dress-rehearsal in three parts.  There are a lot of kinks to work out in my delivery, but I want to get this started now. There are so many people that I want to start connecting with about distance education: past, present, and future colleagues, clients, mentors and acquaintances.

I'm torn between trying to build this site as a depository for everything I want to share with the adult ed service providers I work with and building a vital community of practice. One is shooting for the moon, the other, the stars.  By throwing my hat in the ring, I hope to encourage others to do the same, right here on this site.

Some things missing in this opening intro: Maybe some visuals. More details on how and why the world of adult education needs to change. That explanation is coming in future posts.  A real microphone. Fewer "ums." And, lastly, ENERGY.  But, for a first recording (first take, actually), it's good enough to get the ball rolling. I hope to make these and more adjustments and improvements  in Take Two.

Let's try this again. Only this time, with video.

Okay. So, yes.  I work from home, and I sit right by a window with a lot of sun.  The camera makes me a little uncomfortable.  Any further comments by me would probably come across as vanity.  If you were blocked from viewing this by a public school firewall, comment saying so, and let's figure out a work-around.  Now, let's try narrating a slideshow.
Well, if these aren't humble beginnings, I don't know what. I'm still learning Audacity and and how they come together to make slide-casting possible. And then there was a glitch in Google Docs (sacrilege!) that made some text invisible.  But, I don't want us to get distracted by the details of the technology tools.  Either they facilitate communication or they inhibit it.

Which of these three introductions gets your vote? I asked an education professor at VCU which tool I should use for my podcasts and he said "all of them." I don't think he meant, all in the first blog post. But, I'm all for experimentation and using a diversity of tactics.   The slide-cast was much more labor intensive than the other two takes.  Even though there were some hiccups that didn't quite get worked out before posting, it seems like it's got potential. And not just for educator professional development, but for adult education instruction, wouldn't you say? One person on twitter already asked for info-graphics. Who's got some provocative stats regarding online learning?

More to come, I promise. Subscribe to this blog, would ya?