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What Does It Mean to Be an Adult Educator?

I am an adult educator. So, what does it mean to be an adult educator? Adult educators are people who facilitate learning for others considered to be adults by way of their age, personal responsibilities, life experience, lack of completion of secondary education, or a variety of other characteristics. Definitions of who qualifies as an adult learner vary and no single definition has been established, however a broadly based consensus might include those considered adults who engage in learning activities that support “change in thinking, values or behavior” (Merriam & Brockett, 2007, p. 298).

Adult educators can be found in universities and technical colleges teaching both formal and informal classes, training workers in corporate training programs, teaching First Aid and CPR on the weekends, volunteering in casually formed gatherings of people interested in a hobby, leading religious classes, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at a community center, working in health care teaching newly diagnosed diabetics about diet and glucose testing, demonstrating how to grout tile at a big box store, or developing on-line learning targeting adult learners.

Adult education practice is most often associated with the term “andragogy.” Malcolm Knowles (1984), first introduced the term in America in 1967, describing it as “the art and science of helping adults learn.” The “science” is usually thought of as the systematic activity, methods and knowledge acquired through formal education, training and practical experience and used to design, develop, implement and evaluate both face-to-face and on-line learning programs for adult learners. The “art” however, is often associated with educators’ activities of using insight, imagination, innovation, and creativity in practice. It is the manner in which the science of teaching is carried out, the style and grace with which facilitators engage learners and the environment, placing their mark on the process whether in person or via e-learning.

If you want to know more about adult education, here are a few good sites:

http://infed.org/mobi/malcolm-knowles-informal-adult-education-self-direction-and-andragogy/

http://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

http://www.qotfc.edu.au/resource/?page=65375

LEGO Building Blocks……Learning Objects

In 1992, while watching his children play with LEGO building blocks as he mulled over learning strategies, futurist and e-learning expert Wayne Hodgins thought, “I can use that idea!” As Hodgins studied his children’s work with the LEGO bricks, he noticed that individual bricks or blocks could be used to construct an object, then be disassembled and reused to build something entirely different (Hodgins, 2002; Northrup, 2007). For instance, the standard shape and size of blue LEGO bricks allow them to be used with wheels to build a vehicle, then disassembled and combined with interchangeable red and yellow bricks to build a castle. Hodgins reasoned that perhaps small digital learning units could be developed and fit together in much the same way. Why not develop chunks of learning that can be reused in combination with other chunks of learning in a different context and for a different purpose? The concept of the learning object was born.

Wayne Hodgins is now retired and “Wandering, wondering and pondering the world, one nautical mile at a time.”  He can be kept up with through his website at:  http://waynehodgins.typepad.com/

Do You Know Your ECE Training Level?

Professionals working in the field of Early Care and Education in Georgia can find state approved training and professional development opportunities designed and developed to fit their individual career level. Training competencies have been developed to describe abilities at three levels of competence: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced. These competencies guide program development, inform the approval process, and provide Early Care and Education professionals with the ability to select training geared toward their individual level of career development.

  •  Beginning Level Training includes the courses mandated for the first year in the field, such as recognition and reporting of abuse and neglect, health and safety and basic information such as child development, rules and regulations, supervision, and positive discipline. This is not an exclusive list and although these courses are designed to meet the needs of beginning professionals, they are often good refreshers for more experienced workers and provide new or updated information.
  • Intermediate Level Training has been developed and approved for professionals who have several years of experience and training in the field, field related credentials and/or formal education. This training typically focuses on expanding knowledge and its application and refining skills.
  • Advanced Level Training is most appropriate for professionals who have formal education in the early care and education field and numerous years of experience. This level of training is appropriate for those serving in leadership, management, or mentor roles as lead teachers, center administrators, program coordinators, etc. The focus of advanced level training is typically on knowledge, skills and abilities in leading and managing best practices in the field.

If you want to know more, check out these links:

Open Educational Repositories

LT8000

Digital repositories enable the storage, discovery and retrieval of digital and electronic materials and their metadata at a local or distributed level. Metadata or data about the data is the descriptive information related to the learning material that is critical for its location, sharing and reuse. The repositories are systems that manage access to the reusable learning materials and content (Monge, Oveler, & Azpeitia, 2008). The materials offered are licensed to be used free of charge and include lesson plans, textbooks, games, software, learning objects, and other materials to support both teaching and learning. This trend toward open and flexible learning opportunities supports lifelong learning and access to quality educational opportunities across social boundaries.

Monge, S., Oveler, R., & Azpeitia, I. (2008). Repository 2.0: Social dynamics to support community building in learning object repositories. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects (IJELLO), 4, 191-204.

Learning Objects and Metadata

LT8000…

One characteristic of learning objects is that they carry metadata, or “data about data.” Metadata is descriptive information about a resource which may include the author’s name, the title, publication date, content, keywords, etc. Metadata is a digital form  of data similar to to data that used to be housed in a library card catalog. The metadata allows users to search and find a particular learning object by using the metadata. It allows you to locate the object quickly rather than investigating all the individual objects through which you are searching. Imagine trying to find Dickens’ Great Expectations by sorting through all the books in a library. The metadata enables computers to find learning objects by searching, as opposed to browsing the entire digital library one learning object at a time.

Reusability of Learning Objects

For LT8000 Foundations in Instructional Design and Technology – I’ve been assigned the task of researching, presenting, and writing about the topic of “Learning Objects.” One of the concepts that has surfaced from my reading is the idea that learning objects are reusable. Following the trail of reusability, I’ve found that even though the instructional content of a given learning object is designed for a specific context, it can still be shared with other users, customized, or combined with other learning objects for another purpose. This characteristic provides a number of benefits. It allows knowledge to be sustained in the form of e-learning material that is available beyond the time-limits of a particular project or course. It avoids the development of redundant materials, saving time, financial, technical and human resources. It allows the information to be used in different disciplines including academia, military, government, business and industry. For instance a learning object on the basic description of water might be developed for a technical college course on water management. It might also be combined with a series of other learning objects for a college course in anatomy and physiology, used in a presentation on water budgets at a civic meeting, or rice production in an extension service program. The reusability aspect of learning objects offers many options for disseminating knowledge to a wide and diverse audience of learners in a global market.

So, what is a learning object?

Well, it may be called an “instructional object” or even a “knowledge object” or have a special designation like “NETg learning object.”  At any rate, it has as many definitions as it does names, so I am going to try to sort these out for the presentation. I was first introduced to learning objects in 2004 when I worked for the Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE). Learning objects were just coming into vogue as an instructional tool. Technical school instructors were using them as visual aids in their classrooms and I was asked to develop a number of them for various instructors. I had more or less forgotten about them until I saw them on the list as a topic. So I’m really interested in digging deeper to see how far they have come in ten years.  This is going to be exciting!