New Insights into Roles of Adult Education.
Strohschen & Elazier (2007) argue that rather than being a guru, Adult Educators are becoming more of a learning partner. Students’ immediate ability to access information online can create situations where educators can be proven wrong almost instantly. Rather than be the (perceived) encyclopaedic brain of previous generations, educators must embrace a facilitator role that envelops a mix of experience, emotional intelligence and values (Strohschen & Elazier, 2007, p 21).
Keeping up-to-date with technology is also important. However, with technologies changing so quickly, there exists a real danger of teaching obsolete information using obsolete technology. This circles back to Strohschen & Elazier’s insight into the partnership between the educator and the learner.
I find this insightful because I have experienced several classroom settings in which older technology was used (dated training videos, older websites etc). Upon reflection, I believe this caused unnecessary distraction and ultimately hurt the credibility of the classroom, not to mention the teacher. By creating open dialogue and not prescribing sources to students, we, as educators, can utilize the most relevant and current technologies to ensure we are getting the most buy-in possible from our students.
Caution must be paid, however, to the vast array of sources available online. As teachers, we have no way to control these online sources in the way that a textbook was more-or-less the only source available in previous decades (or at least the only “correct” source, no matter how old the textbook was). This again shows how the term “facilitator” may take the place of the term “teacher” as we move further into the 21st century .
New Trends in Adult Education
Jeffrey R. Young’s article (2010) on Salman Khan, a one man “Academy” on youtube, presents a well-balanced critique on the place of online learning, particularly via youtube, outside of the traditional education system. While my field, sales and corporate training, operates more in the boardroom than the classroom, I did find many of Young’s points applicable to me.
Youtube is filled with self-help and motivational videos, videos on how to devise sales plans, examples of open versus closed questions, cold-calling techniques, the list goes on. I have encountered managers who will have their staff scroll through youtube trying to find videos on how to close sales, and how to generate leads. While I have no problem with this, I do find that engagement and hands-on experience is sorely lacking. Young’s article makes mention of the cost of higher education as a valid reason why so many people are looking to free, open-based sources for education. Likewise, many companies do not want to invest (financially or logistically) in structured, in-person training. I think that the two strategies work wonderfully together: there is nothing wrong with getting ideas from youtube – it is a great springboard. But apart from the comments section of youtube (a pit of electronic vipers if there ever was one), there is zero interaction and the ability to practice what has been learned is practically nil when used as the only tool. I believe adults are generally not comfortable mimicking sales techniques that they have seen online. There needs to be an injection of the salesperson’s own personality to create a credible sales journey for the customer, something that must come via role-play or good-ol’ trial and error.
In a similar fashion, I learned to paint by watching The Joy of Painting on TV when I was a kid. But I didn’t learn by just watching; at first I would pick up my paintbrush and make a disastrous cluster of not-so-happy-little-trees and geometrically impossible mountain faces. Eventually, I got better. The instruction was just the first step, the practice and experience were where the true learning came from. I see this as the way that I need to address the trend of youtube as the online learning tool.
Web Conference with Learning Partner
I felt that the Skype call with my learning partner, Christien, to discuss the roles and trends articles was extremely valuable. One thing that I have been missing during my first few months of PIDP 3100 is the back-and-forth dialogue that a traditional classroom provides. Whether it is to have a discussion about a particular article or theory, to check each other’s progress, or for me to blow off a bit of steam about APA style, the email exchanges and subsequent Skype call with Christien were very good.
Although our fields are quite different, I am focussed on corporate sales training and Christen is more involved in the electrical trade, we both have similar feelings towards the topic we chose: how online learning impacts the roles and trends in adult education. I feel that we both see the use of the internet and youtube as vital tools in teaching but only as part of a much more engaging classroom setting in which we will have to act as more of a facilitator instead of a reciter of information. The most current information is available online and it is accessible 24/7, it will be our job to disseminate that information in a meaningful way and to assess our students comprehension and retention of that information in a manner that is equally on the cutting edge.
One thing that Christien taught me was about checking the validity of websites when using online sources. I have been too concerned with content and really only used my better judgement on deciding if the source is worthwhile or not. I have cited several research papers in my essays and journals, and while they may not always be the final word on the matter, I have been happy to use them solely as a springboard for ideas and reflection. Christien went so far as to email the editor of the websites he used to discern the validity and credentials of the sources, something I will definitely do in the future as I use online references in my teaching.
Young, J.R. (2010, June 6). College 2.0: A self-appointed teacher runs a one-man ‘academy’ on youtube. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from: http://chronicle.com/article/College-20-A-Self-Appointed/65793/
Strohschen, G.I.E., & Elazier, K.B. (2007). The 21st century educator: Strategic and consultative partner. The AU Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.journal.au.edu/edu_journal/jan2007/article02_vol1no1.pdf