Edult Education, This weeks Post from UVIC

Having reflected on the readings for this week, is there an adult learning theory (or two) that resonates for you? Do you see the influences of this theory in your own work? Or, perhaps you oppose and would like to challenge some of what you read and you may have a different perspective. And then, consider the readings and the notion that adult education is said to be a strong catalyst for social change. What are your thoughts on this?

In terms of learning, the notion of Active learning stands out for me Sierra Training Associates (2007) defines active learning as “the use of one or more interactive approaches to education and train for the purposes of engagement students in their work to acquire and understand knowledge.” Looking at Knowles four principles as stated in Northern Arizona University (2010) first the concept that Adults like to be involved in the planning and evaluation of what they are doing. Secondly, a person’s experience is from the past is the basis for learning activities, Thirdly, Adults like to learn subjects that have relevance in their life (job or personal) and lastly the use of problem centered learning as opposed to content centered. These principles are also a good foundation to Gamifcation when it is applied to the workplace, understanding active learning will help build better tools for adults to use and to learn from in a virtual world.
Looking down the list that MacKeracher (2008) offers many fit Knowles principle well, I certainly believe that learning is something an adult must want to do, they want to be involved in the learning process not just sit there and be a passive receptacle to information.

But actively involved, not only with the content but with those also those who may be taking the course with them, while I understand the need to deliver content in lecture style, there should be room to explore and experience the content as well. Often in today’s workplace training does not exist, in my company training exists in the world of Skill Port, this is the most boring delivery method of course material I have had to work with. It is non-interactive, it is read/present then answer a few multiple choice questions. There is no context in which to learn the material nor is it applied to a real world situation. This is a very ineffective, in my opinion as an educational tool for training in the workplace.

The question of whether education can bring about social change is difficult. I have to believe that this is something that each individual person has the ability to do depending on if they are in the right place in their life to be able to shift from education as a need to learn skills to survive in the work place and society or whether they are at a higher level of enlightenment and can make use of education to make social changes. Most people are too busy living their day to day life to even consider acting on social change that could radically change society in some way. Education has the potential to do this, if we can teach critical thinking skills, we go beyond the notion of learning for survival in society skills. I do not think many adult learners get the opportunity to apply social change when they are too busy living day to day. However, one of the big comments we hear in Gamification circles is ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ When we teach we could say the same thing, ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ As teachers we have a responsibly to society to ensure that we act within societal norms. That does not mean we should steer away from hard social issues, but we should also take the tack of doing no harm.

References:
Northern Arizona University (2010) ‘Adult Learning Theory (andragogy)’[Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 9/30/2013)
MacKeracher, D. (2008) ‘Making Sense of Adult Learning’. University of Toronto Press:Toronto
Sierra Training Associates (2007) ‘We can teach the way we are taught, or we can teach the way people learn’[Online]. Available at: http://sph.bu.edu/otlt/teachingLibrary/Learning%20Theory/adultlearning.pdf (Accessed: 9/30/2013)