Tag Archives: instructional design

Know Your Adult Learners

Know Your Adult Learners

by Mark Sivy

The writing of this post was prompted by the all too common contrary treatment of adult learners in academic and corporate settings. Learning for adults is often treated as an extension of traditional public education, which itself is in desperate need of updating. As an adult, the motivations, challenges, psychology, and mechanics of learning are significantly different from those that exist for K-12 and undergraduate programs. These differences need to be recognized, acknowledged, and integrated into instructional practice.

Adult LearnersBackground

Even though no single theorist’s approach comprehensively applies to all adults, one of the most well-known of contemporary adult learning theorists is Malcolm Knowles. His assumptions align with previous work of noted individuals such as Jean Piaget and Dusan Savicevic and concurrent work by experts such as Kathryn Cross and Jack Mezirow.

Adult Learner Characteristics

So for a start, the first six items that I present are based upon Malcolm Knowles’ (1984) assumptions of adult learning characteristics. I then follow up with some of my own, which I highly doubt are original, yet they are important to consider.

  1. Adults have transitioned from being dependent learners to being self-directed. This translates into the abilities to: a) have control over their learning process, b) develop peer-level rapport with instructors and trainers, c) learn in a manner that is conducive to their individual style, d) to select projects or tasks that reflect their desires, and e) avoid highly structured learning.
  2. Closely related to the previous assumption is that adults motivated to learn voluntarily, or at least learning material in a manner that generates a sense of intrinsic benefit such as to boost self-esteem or address a curiosity.
  3. Adults want to draw on or connect to their past experiences to help them in learning new content or skills. This stresses the importance of hosting learner groups that are comprised of individuals with similar experiences or interests.
  4. Adults are pragmatic and goal-oriented, wanting learning outcomes that are immediately applicable.
  5. Adults need to see the relevance and benefit of current learning to their life and future, work or personal.
  6. Learning needs to be problem-based and task-oriented instead of focused on the memorization of facts or processes.
  7. Adult’s lives are complex with multiple roles and busy schedules, thus learning needs to be more flexible in terms of time, place, and pacing.
  8. The ability to learn slows with age, yet learning becomes deeper and more meaningful due to its integration with a learner’s pre-existing knowledge and experience.
  9. Many adult learners who approach a new learning experience have anxieties, either due to negative learning experiences at earlier ages or because they sense they may not be equipped to learn as an adult.
  10. As a whole, adult learners are much more diverse, consequently requiring a greater personalization of the learning experience.
  11. Learning through the use of technology and at-a-distance communication can be new for many adults, thus causing a sense of disconnection with the learning process and a perceived inability to address previously mentioned adult learner needs.
  12. After a learning event, adults benefit from coaching, follow-up discussions, on-demand support, and informal communities of practice.

Adult TechImplementation

The topic of integrating these characteristics of adult learners into instructional design will be the topic of a follow-up blog post….

Reflection Point – “Learning isn’t an assembly line process like that implemented by Henry Ford”     ~Mark Sivy

References

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Online Learning Part 6

Online Learning Part 6 – Series Final Thoughts

by Mark Sivy

online learningIn this age of global opportunities due to increased connectivity, greater mobility, and seemingly endless web-based possibilities, intellectual capacity is now being recognized as a nation’s greatest resource. In response, governments and educational institutions should now be seeking to leverage forward thinking strategies and innovative technologies to develop and capitalize on the human resource. Whether changes are being made in public schools, higher education, talent development, or training, the educational processes should be interactive, engaging, and reflective of present and future social and technological trends. A cornerstone of this movement is online education.

At the Core

As a foundation to online education offerings and support, it should be recognized that creating instructional materials is both an art and a science.  As appropriate, design and development staff should incorporate K-12 learning theory (pedagogy) and adult learning theory (andragogy) in the creation of educational content. Additional considerations include:

  • needs analyses
  • stakeholder involvement
  • instructional design – the mechanical / technical aspects of online content creation
  • instructional systems development – the strategic merging of instructional design with learning theory and situational analyses
  • other learning theories such as constructivism, connectivism, and social constructivism
  • web-based learning environment implementation and administration
  • additional web-based learning tools
  • course authoring tools
  • multiple language availability
  • accessibility
  • communication planning
  • media creation
  • project management
  • teaching and learning support

teacher-407360_1280A Broader Sense

Given the current global trends in education, this matter should not a question of whether or not to accept online learning as part of the educational process, but rather how online learning will be incorporated into the local and regional educational culture. For those educational institutions, regions, and countries that want their citizens and country to remain competitive in a global market and economy, online learning should become an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

Reflection Point – “Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.” ~Mark Cuban

Online Learning Part 5

Online Learning Part 5 – Tools

by Mark Sivy

According to the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, there are currently over 2000 digital technology tools and applications which can be used for education, with most of them being relatively easy to use and free or low cost. Mixing these up as you’re developing different online learning or e-learning lessons and activities or mobile learning chunks can make your instructional design and course more exciting and engaging. Most of these tools can be included in the following categories:

  • calendar Personal Productivity – includes calendars, concept mapping applications, computer utilities, organizers, and accessibility tools.
  • Web Browsers and Related Tools – allow for accessing, subscribing to, searching, aggregating, and reading web content.
  • Web Information – offer the ability to create, post, and read information using websites, wikis, and blogs.
  • Communication Tools – permit both synchronous and asynchronous options such as email, instant messaging, texting, and discussion forums.
  • Documents – these provide for offline creation and presentation of information such as documents, spreadsheets, web designand presentations
  • Public Information – present many forms of information access including but not limited to frequently asked questions (FAQs), tutorials, podcasts, and open courseware.
  • Course Management Systems – enable the creation and delivery of course content as well as interactive participation, social exchange, collaboration, tracking, communication, and grading.
  • Instructional Design and Development – support course content authoring and learning assessment
  • Audio, Video, Images, and Graphics – allow for the creation, review, editing, and presentation of a variety of multi-sensory presentation
  • web browserVirtual Environments – facilitate the interaction of individuals with environments and other individuals through the use of avatars within three dimensional surroundings.
  • Web Conferencing and Web Meetings – allow individuals to meet synchronously using voice, voice and video, whiteboards, and screen sharing.
  • Social Networks – permit the creation of various online communities, and allow for the formation of personal and professional networks.
  • Collaboration and Sharing – provide for common digital work spaces for groups or teams to collectively create, share, and modify content.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~ William Arthur Ward

Online Learning Part 3

Online Learning Part 3 – Benefits and Challenges of Online Learning

by Mark Sivy

online learningOnline learning is not intended or expected to be the magic solution to current education issues. Using strategic planning, an instruction systems technology (human performance technology), and instructional design for online learning approach can in some cases resolve or reduce present education problems or concerns, and it does address modern learner expectations to use digital technologies. On the other hand, online learning comes with its own issues.

Some benefits of online learning are that it can:

  • Fit into personal schedules more easily than traditional learning.
  • Be self-directed and self-paced, thus allowing learners the opportunity to speed up, slow down, and review content at an individual pace.
  • Lead to greater self-confidence, thus empowering the learner to take more responsibility for their learning.
  • Offer personalized learning, using a variety of delivery and presentation methods, thus accommodating multiple learning styles and personal preferences.
  • Lead to the improvement of learner attitudes, self-esteem and self-efficacy which can result in better outcomes and learner retention.
  • Allow for greater personal mobility, reduced travel time and expenses, and the ability to overcome geographic barriers.
  • Compensate for personal restrictions, challenges, or limitations.
  • Facilitate increased student interactivity, student collaboration, team work, and one-on-one contact with the instructor.
  • Permit learners to experiment, explore, create, fail, retry, and learn without the fear of others being aware.
  • Be used to create peer community and support which enhance learning.
  • Allow for broader learning opportunities and course options at a lower cost to the learner.
  • Lower the cost and ease the scheduling for instructor professional development, training, follow-up contact, and ongoing support.
  • Enhance the learner’s awareness and skills in the use of technologies such as computers, applications, and the Internet.
  • Deliver standard content and consistent messages, ensuring that learners have access to the same resources and opportunities.
  • Provide cost savings to institutions in terms of reducing the need for buildings.
  • Enable global awareness, community, networking and resources.
  • Reduce environmental damage caused by energy consumption, waste emissions, and land use.
  • Provide tools which allow for tracking, analyzing, reporting, and improving teaching and learning.
  • Host simulations and role-play activities that would otherwise not be possible

Reflection Point – “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”   ~Albert Einstein

Some challenges of online learning are that:

  • Learners who procrastinate, are not self-motivated, require frequent prompting, or who have poor study habits may fail to meet requirements and deadlines.
  • Non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions, and eye contact will typically be missing.
  • Barriers can exist initially for learners due to the need for new skills which are associated with using technologies and new ways of learning.
  • Technological constraints exist in terms of communication, project completion and submission, inadequate devices, and restrictive file formats.
  • It is more difficult to interact or communicate with individuals who tend to be unresponsive.
  • Issues can arise for instructors due to the need for adapting or learning new online teaching strategies, processes, and routines.
  • Students may miss face-to-face social contact and interaction, can feel isolated, or may need in-person teacher-student interaction.
  • Instructors may not always be available on demand in a manner which is often expected when communicating electronically.
  • Slow or unreliable Internet connections can present issues and frustration.
  • Creating and maintaining the necessary institutional infrastructure, resources, and support can be costly and complex.
  • Learners may be confused or disoriented due to the lack of routines surrounding a traditional class.
  • Hands-on activities or lab work are sometimes difficult to host or simulate.
  • Immediate feedback which exists in a traditional class often is not available
  • There is a dependency on Internet connections and functioning hardware.
  • It often requires a difficult change in attitudes and beliefs by learners, instructors, parents, and community.
  • There is a reduction in opportunities to develop oral communication skills and other social dynamics.

Reflection Point – Technology is not capable of or intended to replace teachers, but “any teacher who can be replaced by a computer deserves to be.” ~ David Thornburg

 

Virtual Reality…For Education?

The Latest in Virtual Reality Gear

by Mark Sivy

The notion of virtual reality can be traced back to 1938 when Antonin Artaud, a French playwright, actor and director, used it in a book written to describe theater. Later, in the 1970s, Myron Krueger coined the term “artificial reality” in reference to the interaction between humans and computers. Historically, this concept of having a virtual session within a computer-generated 3D simulated environment has been nothing more than an exercise in science fiction for the masses. Even though the virtual reality (VR) systems that enable this type of experience have been available for decades, their price tags and technological requirements have been enormous. Then came the recent introduction of the wearable VR device that attaches to a personal computer.

<img src="image.gif" alt="Oculus Rift" />

Oculus Rift

The media forerunner in this has been the Oculus Rift, which is a consumer-targeted virtual reality head-mounted display that is expected to be released in final version near the end of 2014. It made headlines recently when it was announced that the parent company, Oculus VR, was purchased by Facebook in March 2014. The current developer kit version of the Rift is available for $300 US. Similar personal computer-connected systems are under development by other companies such as the Sony Morpheus, True Player Gear Totem, Avegant Glyph, GameFace Mark IV, and Durovis Dive, thus we can anticipate a flood of this very highly anticipated technology into the marketplace during the next couple of years. Presently these systems are primarily being designed for either immersive gaming or for movie entertainment, but other uses of the system are certainly possible and are being considered.

<img src="image.gif" alt="Durovis Dive" />

Durovis Dive

<img src="image.gif" alt="True Player Gear" />

True Player Gear

<img src="image.gif" alt="Sony Morpheus" />

Sony Morpheus

How Can They Be Used for Education?

Imagine the advantages that these VR options would have for education. The levels of engagement, interactivity, collaboration, presence and visualization that these devices will offer can certainly be leveraged to the advantage of learning. In a recent Wired article, Brian Shuster discussed the likelihood of using virtual world environments for educational purposes. Even the Oculus Rift creator, Palmer Luckey, envisions educational uses of his creation in an article in Gamespot. In anticipation of the educational uses of VR, East Carolina University in North Carolina had established the Virtual Reality and Education Laboratory in 1992 and the university currently offers a concentration in VR within their Education Master’s degree program.

Reflection Point: Virtual reality is a medium, a means by which humans can share ideas and experiences. ~ Alan B. Craig

 

Online Teaching and Learning

 

My new blog about Online Teaching and Learning

by Mark Sivy

<img src="image.gif" alt="online teaching and learning" />Now that I’ve completed my doctoral degree requirements, it’s time to switch gears and combine my recently acquired knowledge, research skills, and theoretical perspectives with my practical experience in educational technology, online teaching, e-learning, and educational leadership. I have a lot of ideas on how to proceed and developing this online teaching and learning blog will help pull my collective thoughts together.

I have many curiosities and research interests, so I decided to work on the following blogs as well:

<img src="image.gif" alt="online teaching and learning" />After the introductory posts for these blogs are completed, each blog will take on its respective personality and will set sail in a unique direction. The destinations are many, with several already being charted, while others are to be determined by the winds of progress and innovation. So now onward with these journeys…

Reflection Point – I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.  ~ First stanza of Sea Fever by John Masefield