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DIY U – Are We Ready to Shift?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create”.   .   .   .   Albert Einstein

In the first blog of the semester, I pondered andragogy vs. pedagogy and if teaching adults is really different from teaching children.  For me, teaching children is comfortable.  It is easy to be flexible; they are forgiving. For the most part they don’t know more about the subject matter than you do. It is easier to try out new teaching strategies with little fear of retribution.  Active learning is more expected and the norm.

Adults make me a little less comfortable.  They often approach learning either as a total academic exercise or, on the other end of the spectrum as a necessity or farce.  You can’t mess up; they are so much more judgmental and less forgiving.

Add to this the anonymity of online instruction.  I have experience from the learner perspective, and found online courses to be very similar to on ground instruction.  They can be engaging as well as boring.  Like classroom-based courses, it depends greatly on the instructional strategies as well as student cohort and participation.  The most difficult thing, I feel, it the lack of personal social contact with online instruction.  It is easy to misread the intent into classroom discussion boards and other social media. Reichwald and Goecke discuss this phenomenon as social presence, the degree to which using technology resembles the actual experience of communicating with another person.  Social presence, they say, is very low in most online learning exchanges.

Online learning is highly conducive to Knowles’ adragogical model. Online instruction is focused on the self-directed, independent learner, requiring a reservoir of experiences that can be used as a basis on which to build learning.  Getting to know students and their learning styles quickly can be challenging in this environment.  The student has control over the instructional ‘setting’ – the student-centric classroom of the future is the one that the student creates (sometimes this is while getting sun on the beach or sipping coffee in underwear).  The learner must be highly motivated to participate and perform. Diagnosing the reasons for learning difficulties and disconnect becomes almost impossible.

I do realize, though, that if I am going to instruct adults, I must learn to be an effective instructor both on ground and online.  While listening to an NPR segment one morning, I stumbled across Anya Kamenetz.  I was highly intrigued by her discussion due to my area of concentration in this program – teaching and learning through technology.

So I purchased her book, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education to read before this summer’s class, Theory and Practice of ELearning. Kamenetz says her book is about the future of higher education. “It’s a story about the communities of visionaries who are tackling the enormous challenges of cost, access, and quality in higher ed, using new technologies to bring us a revolution in higher learning that is affordable, accessible, and learner-centered.”

This is one way I can try to make teaching online less uncomfortable and maybe even provide a new perspective to classroom conversation.

What better way to discover and create than to use the tool that makes creativity and innovation infinitely easier?

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One Response to “DIY U – Are We Ready to Shift?”

  1. Joanne –
    I so loved reading your blog entries – thank you for all of the thoughtful and insightful posts. It was a pleasure to learn alongside you – I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors —
    Gretchen


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