Friday, September 13, 2013

Into the Great Wide Openness

I've been meaning to talk about this idea of 'open' in educational technology.  It's not new, but it is en vogue. The question I have is, "Is it good?"  For the field of adult education, the answer is really complicated. I want to kick off this topic with a little article from The Atlantic.

With your comments and the follow up that I hope to do, we can build some bridges between the questions around 'openness' in the article and adult ed's realities and potential directions.  A few ideas to consider:
  • Can ABE/GED students manage their own learning, or is facilitation key? 
  • How do subscription based learning programs and free online sites compare? 
  • Should learners only spend time doing NRS reportable tasks, or should teachers integrate a wider range of source materials and learning experiences? 
  • Do students learn better in a structured course, or when they are encouraged to explore? 
  • Which model of providing educational resources helps adult ed programs with retention and expansion? 

Maybe we should make a list of Open vs. Closed learning models... (to be continued) 

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Case for Raising Expectations

There is no denying that the odds are stacked against adult learners successfully 'going back to school' while juggling life's challenges and earning the credentials they need to open doors and begin a transformed and/or more lucrative life.

The teachers in adult ed are mostly part-time and so under-resourced that it's no wonder they can't retain students and dread a new computer-based test like the sky is falling.   

What a star-crossed pair!  Has there ever been a match-up of two underdogs with the only hope being that they can help one another to achieve an unlikely goal?  Their profile and position is defined by their limitations, and yet, those narrow parameters can help to focus their/our efforts.  There is actually much cause for optimism.

The job in adult education is to thread the needle.  Hustling is the name of the game.  Despite the circumstances, the best bet is to double-down.  Ask for more from each learner and teacher.

This is a very simple equation of integers here. A negative times a negative equals a positive. 
Two underdogs together equals an even more potent Cinderella story. Be your own Prince Charming  Teachers, throw the hail mary pass and see what happens. 

Specifically, how do we raise expectations? 
  • Learners: put in more time studying in between classes. 
  • Teachers: play cheerleader and guide on the side, 24/7 
  • Learners: try new things, all of them - one of your options is going to pay off 
  • Teachers: dig up everything you can find on the content and the evolving ways to teach it and then model the versatility you demand of your students 
 (what would you add here? leave a comment!)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Does Distance Learning Need to Change?

Here is a heavily circulated article from Edudemic about online learningIt resonates with me, and there's lots to chew on.

Why (And How) Distance Learning Needs To Change, by Nina Hassing

See anything new here? I see some forward thinking insights, but also some long established basics, which is a good place to start.  But that's just it. Distance ed in the adult ed sector doesn't need to change.  It needs to start. We don't need to get it right out of the gate. It's not going to 'evolve' if it doesn't come out of the cave, or down the from the trees (or get taken off the shelf). 

I'm curious what are the most crucial components outlined in this piece? Which are important next-generation reforms?  Are there any recommendations that are superfluous? Let's discus in the comments right here so we can tailor our response to the context of adult education, ABE/GED/ESOL.