Monday, December 31, 2012

2013: The Year of the Blended Learner

If a clear division still exists between the traditional classroom and online distance learning, then a hybrid model like blended instruction seeks to muddy those waters.  Another grey area to explore and master may not sound like an appealing prospect for the new year, but those two low-tech vs. high-tech scenarios are polarizing over-simplifications that I believe hold us back as educators.  That's one of many reasons why blended learning is such an exciting prospect for 2013.  It's about giving teachers and learners more options to meet our challenges and more opportunities to speed up or slow down the pace of instruction.

My prediction for the field of adult education in 2013 is the widespread adoption of blended learning.  We will get over the fad diet of 'flipping the classroom' (sorry, Khan), and we'll get serious about immersing our learners in technology-rich learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.  We will go further than simply 'integrating technology' in our classroom instruction, and we'll make computer-based instruction a standard component of every learners' ABE/GED/ESOL experience.

I'm not exaggerating or being sensational about this. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Two Most Important Weeks In Distance Ed

It's December 21st and most adult education programs are closed for Christmas, through the middle of next week, or for a longer winter break until after New Years.  Classes ended a week ago or longer.  Classes won't start until the second week in January. This is the most important two weeks the adult education calendar.

There will be a big spike in GED class enrollments in early January. New Year's resolutions, presumably.  The focus of services shifts to intake, assessment, placement, and orientation.  The momentum of last year's progress has collected some dust.  Higher level or self-directed learners encounter the irony of 'hurry up and wait.'  Think highway miles on your car versus start and stop city miles.  Adults' relationship with continuing education is already intermittent, and then you factor in the wear and tear of starting and stopping in accordance with class terms and schedules.  

Learning is 365
Despite the cyclical nature of public programs and traditional classroom services, the needs of adult learners can be served every day of the year.  We're not going to put a dent in the 40 million people needing GEDs without removing barriers to participation, like summer break and winter break. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

All I want for Xmas are Ed-tech Books

What can you get for Christmas that would most help you with facilitating distance/blended learning?  How about some books about educational technology?  There is some great reading to be done about the wave of innovation that is shaking up instruction.  Here are a few that I'm hoping to tear into soon. Have you read them?   If not, let me know if you picked one up based on seeing it here. Care to add a book to this reading list?

I've been following this Will Richardson guy on twitter, admire his prolific blog, and speeches at various conferences.  And now we have a book, an ebook, rather.  His book on personal learning networks looks good too.  

The business of education is a powerful thing with federal government-backed initiatives, giant publishing companies, and long-standing traditions firmly in place.  Once the machinery gets going, it's hard to stop and turn it in any direction.  Nonetheless, innovative change comes out of left field, usually from the sector with the most important needs and the least power in the whole equation: the learners.  Solutions to adult education's problems may not mesh with the agendas of any of those larger entities.  We may not even recognize them as relevant and viable until we're woefully behind, because our orientation is fixed on the things we see as static and/or top-priority.  Disruptive forces can be harnessed to meet your needs if you reorient to integrate them. This is very much the story of my company, GED Academy's, development parallel to the field of adult education (and now intersecting with it).  I'm hoping this book will help me understand the phenomenon that I'm very much a part of.   

What can be said about Khan Academy that hasn't been said before?  As an adult educator, my imagination was captured by Khan's infrastructure of the flipped classroom.  But, integrating his tools into adult ed requires more time and effort than many teachers or learners can afford.  I'm curious to see how this book relates to adult education.  Anybody read it yet and care to comment? 
The title of this book says it all.  Look for my book report on the topic coming soon.  And yes, it will come with game recommendations. 

Have you asked for education-focused books for Xmas? What's on your reading list? Have you read any of these? Drop a comment and let's grow this list.