Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why the Tech Not, Adult Ed?

When technology initiatives launch in adult ed, they inevitably run into road-blocks, seemingly at every turn.  The institutional barriers to 'edtech' implementation in adult ed undermine ambition and innovation on so many levels, our field sometimes feels like a virtual time-machine, as anachronistic as a paper-pencil standardized test (just kidding, high school equivalency credentialing bodies... sorta).   Obviously, funding is always an issue in our field, and any non-monetary issues can nonetheless be overcome if price were no object.

That's 'the man' in the chair, not you, of course.
But, more often than not, it's the political will (and personal will) to break the mold and see a new idea through that makes the biggest difference (we touched on this idea before).  Too often, that's where an edtech initiative most often stalls out and is ushered off to the sidelines to make way for tried and true tradition by way of standard operating procedures.

So, what are the true barriers to effective and edtech integration in adult Ed?  Whether it's a matter of 'us' or 'them,' let's make a list.  Add your biggest pet-peeve stumbling block with a comment, or 'second' one of those listed here and I'll delve into it deeper (with the help of your thoughts) in future blog posts where I hope we can come up with some solutions.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Late Adopter of Mobile Learning

I have to admit that many of my clients are ahead of me in the tablet department.  Mobile learning never seemed like something that was applicable to online GED practice, my forte.  At conferences, I just walked right by the sessions about "mlearning," smartphones for studying and 'bring your own device' in the classroom.  iPads in adult ed programs? Sounds like science fiction.

Back when I ran the statewide distance learning program for Virginia, one of the publishers we purchased from said their program was now accessible via XYandZ mobile devices. Yeah, right, I thought.  Then I pulled it up on my phone and my prejudices were completely confirmed. The little screen only showed a small quartile of the display you'd see on a computer screen. I had to zoom in, back out, pan over, down, zoom in again, and then try to click the right button without much confidence. That's how I clicked on the lesson I wanted to open, or the answer to a question, anything that needed doing required that long string of manipulations. Mobile learning felt more like paralyzed learning. 

As seen on my iPHone through the Puffin app
Today, I get the question about whether GED Academy works on iPads and the answer is YES. Our flash-based program works on all manner of tablets, and the apps like Puffin allow it to run on iPads and iPhone (even though the iOS operating system doesn't allow Flash).  So now that we've got that out of the way, it's time I started giving mobile learning for adult ed some serious consideration.  But, it's not just the technology making mobile learning possible, it's the tenacity of the learners.

Let's get some issues out there and then rebut them with anecdotes from the field (that's you).