Shift to a learning journal

This entry marks a rebirth, of sorts, of this blog. Perhaps there’s some good to come of my painful learning experience of re-branding the original blog. This space will now become my learning journal for self-directed Open Education resources.

I recently signed on to the LearningSpace of The Open University after downloading some of their content through iTunes U. I have had a long-standing interest in the Open Education concept, particularly in light of the success of the OU in the UK. While newer approaches like MOOCs seem to have garnered a lot of attention, OU has quietly contained to evolve and mature.

So, I am going to take some of the writings, notes, and other findings from my disparate, disjointed, and eclectic studies, and place them here. Using this space as my learning journal I won’t be an “elearning guy”, but a Guy doing some e-learning in his ongoing professional development.

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Bagels = Maslow?

Ok, I want to throw out a thought that’s been bugging me in the online Adult Ed class I’m wrapping up. I took over pre-defined courseware and don’t have a lot of room for rapid re-writes.

We spend some time discussing major theorists, including the venerable Maslow. One of the trends that shows up in the first assignment on theories is that providing food & drink during formal trg sessions or pointing out locations of fire escapes, etc. satisfies the one of the basic Maslow needs at the bottom of the pyramid.

I disagree. Mostly.

In situations where a learner is under the direct care of an organization or institution , then I think an argument could be made to support that premise. However…

Adult learners who are pursuing education and development are largely responsible for fulfilling their own basic needs. Granted, someone who is having difficulty making ends meet and has their residence and meals at risk may have some challenges keeping focused on their studies, but I submit that the education provider’s primary role is to help manage and meet esteem needs in support of educational goals.

My other argument against the Bagels for Maslow is during online, distance, or informal learning scenarios. Again, the learner should bear the responsibility for fulfilling the basic needs so that they can keep moving up the pyramid.

I’m definitely interested in your thoughts.

Taking (Online) College Instruction by Storm!

>Well, I admit that I never thought it might happen, but as of today I am officially a College-level instructor because my two courses started today.

I found myself in this position by the purest of chance.  The backstory is that I live in a relatively major center with a nearby Community College.  As a product of the College system I have a certain amount of affection of the methods and approaches used therein.  This College runs a number of continuing education courses, including a certificate in adult learning (similar to the one I did years ago).  So, I figured I’d send out a general inquiry to say, “ya know, if you ever want/need part-time instructors for this gig I’d be, you know, interested.”.  Based on my history with unsolicited resume submissions and the like, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for what I usually consider to be a pretty closed system.

Fate decided to keep me on my toes and I actually got a response to my query and eventually got an offer to teach not one, but two of the online editions of said certificate program.  That was back in October and I wasn’t slated to teach until Feb., so it didn’t seem quite real.

But, that was then, and this is now.  I’ve completed the edits to my course, and when I checked in last night I was pleasantly surprised to see that I even had learners enrolled!  So, things kicked off today. In my Adult Learning course I have 32 (!) learners, and in the Assessment & Evaluation course I have 12.  Of course, these numbers are likely to change as the course goes on, but I’m thrilled.  Lots of eager (and maybe not-so-eager) learners to mould, mentor, and guide.

I dug back through my online communities course from grad school and re-read Gilly Salmon’s fine book, e-Moderating.  I tapped into some of my recent expertise and inspiration and I filled in what I thought were some of the gaps in one course, and worked with another new instructor to re-purpose and re-format another one because neither one of us could make head-nor-tail of the original approach (we also had learner feedback from a previous iteration to support our efforts).

So, I gave them a video introduction and I plan to do some of Salmon’s “weaving and summarizing” as the content discussions progress.  I may even tap into some other activities through the 14 week run of the course, just to give the learners some other kinds of engagement.

While I find the thought of having to mark that many assignments a little daunting, I’m still excited about this new side activity.  I’ll blog more as the courses progress.