Reflection, Dialog, and Supportive Environment Key to Adult and Organizational Learning

A digital story reflecting on my experience of the VCU MEd Adult Learning Program 



A Prezi on the adult learning journey in the digital age

Please have a view of my final presentation for Exploring Digital Media and Adult Learning. A story goes with the images and that is not available here. Perhaps you can make your own story that goes with the images and words you find. After all, I believe we each receive something in each learning opportunity that uniquely matches our own interests, needs, and story.

Synch asynch, swim aswim, to be or…

While a number of issues (economics being a key one… budget cuts, etc.) seem to be moving more of formal learning to the online domain, one of the key issues that I gather is how to maintain a sense of community. I recall that my instructor of instruction strategies for adult learning, Gretchen Schmidt, who is Director of Educational Policy for VA Community Colleges, said that in the CC system evidence showed that learners who were part of a cohort in an online learning program tended to stick it out. Whereas learners who were not, had a higher rate of drop out. She said that over time, learners in a cohort were able to get to know each other and feel connected. Whereas learners who didn’t have that continuity with a group didn’t have the community of learners/practice to support their journey.

Is there anyone out there… the need for community… [Photo source]

The CTE tips on creating an asynchronous community seem to be important to me. I find that even when I join a physical class of people that I’ve never met (and most of the class also doesn’t know each other), it takes quite a while for the environment to open up. Of course, how the class is conducted definitely impacts this. If there is a mix of collaborative activities in pairs, or small group, and more class discussion, it can help very much to get to know other learners and build a sense of community.

I have not experienced a course that has been totally online. While I have participated in webinars of several different types, these have primarily been short (1-2 hours max), one-off sessions. The webinars would count as synchronous, I believe and things like blogging, online discussion, commenting, wiki use, and such, would fit the asynch category.

One thing that struck me from Michel Martin’s post on her 9 lessons learned from running a webinar was the idea that more slides are better. I can see the need to keep the audience/participants engaged and yet the quality of slides does seem to be important. Her reference to Beyond Bullet Points seems be in synch (or asynch…?) with my interest and experience of presentations. I have been subject to ‘death by powerpoint’ both in person and via a webinar. The effect is quite similar – zoning out, not being able to stay with the story, if there is a story. Of course there is always a story. It may be just that storytelling skills need developing.  The intention being that slides should tell a story. There’s a great video by Garr Reynolds, a presentation expert, that gives some excellent guidelines for presentations.

So, to synch or asynch and swimming or not, seems to be about connecting to a community of learners to support us on the journey. Finding and developing that connection and community just might be relate to being, or not… reaching or realizing our potential, being or becoming what we aspire to. Happy travels…

Curating video content – on innovation and creativity

I have an interest in innovation and creativity and have recently been curating some web-based videos on this topic for learning purposes. Prior to this intentional effort to curate these resources I had actually created a youtube account and saved several videos to my favorites. I even had one playlist.  I now have about 10  playlists on topics of interest and probably over 30 videos of interest.

Innovation and education

An area that I have been focusing on recently is innovation and creativity and I’ve compiled a Youtube playlist on this topic. There are several interesting speakers and clips on this list. One interesting clip I found was from an old TV show (I presume), The Ambersons, and it talks about the introduction and growth of the automobile and how it might impact society. It’s fascinating to see the perspectives on new technology. There always seems to be the Luddite perspective of resisting the new for fear of the changes it will bring. However, time and tide seems to move on, doesn’t it. Often for better or perhaps not. Change does seem to be inevitable…

On Creativity

Another very interesting talk I found on TED is by Sir Ken Robinson, entitled “Do schools kill creativity?. I had heard or seen others make reference to his ability as a public speaker (and no, he doesn’t use and slides as a part of his presentation, in general). He is quite engaging and had a keen interest in creativity and education. A few points he made that struck me were about the willingness to make mistakes and how our education system and organizations tend to stigmatize mistakes. One thing he said was “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original” and that we are educating people out of creativity because of stigmatizing mistakes. I know that when I am in an environment where  I feel like I am criticized or punished for making mistakes, I tend to withhold something within. I’m not as likely to extend myself or take risks because of the possible unsupportive response.

Another video along these lines that I found interesting was an interview with  Olivia Fox. The following are a few excerpts:

“One of the things that is most fascinating to me, is how important it is to fail successfully, and only the best innovators and best leaders know how to do that… Innovation requires the willingness to risk that what you’re doing may not work out. Otherwise, you’re only going to do things you know will work out, old things—rather than new things where you don’t know what the outcome’s going to be.”

Are we in our element – or are we doing what we really want to do?

A part of creativity and innovation and the willingness to make mistakes seems to be the question of whether we are really doing what we are passionate about. According to Sir Ken Robinson and Steve Jobs to be much more like that creativity and innovation will flourish when we are in our element and passionate about what we are doing. Csikszentmihalyi calls it flow.

Radio Radio – podcasting and lifelong learning

An interview with a regular listener to podcasts: how she came started using podcasts and how they contribute to her learning.

(select the play button just below)



Roll it…

How to add a menu to WordPress via a screencast

Here’s my first real attempt at a screencast. I run up against the 5 min bumper and so I’ve created a second clip to finish what I intended. I can’t seem to get it to show up as an embedded video here. I copied the embed code and pasted it below, both in the visual tab and the HTML tab, but the best it can do is provide a link. I’d like to get the video so that it can play here.


Part 1 – Adding menu items to a WordPress blog

Part 2 – Adding menu items to a WordPress blog

My experience

So, what has this mini experience of screen casting done for me, or what I have learned so far from it. Well, I do see some of the points that consider screen casting as one way (ref: Joanne Huebner). I feel this too, but also see that if there can be times when one-way information can be a part of a dialog. Afterall, when someone posts to a blog isn’t that one way, initially? Of course, there is the possibility of commenting which creates the opportunity for a two way conversation. So, couldn’t a video do the same? It does seem like some people have been using it that way as well, as demonstrated by Russell Stannard. Jon Udell sees that one of the uses of screen casting as allowing a one-to-one presentation to go one-to-many. Of course the quality then matters. It brings in Gardener Campell’s concept of voice – inflection, tone, dramatization. I like the idea that voice is considered in a positive way to share meaning. So often it seems that there is such a negative connotation associated with a teacher talking/speaking in a one-way fashion for any significant period of time. Campell expresses the positive possibility nicely for me, ““the explaining voice,” the voice that performs understanding. The explaining voice doesn’t just convey information; it shapes, out of a shared atmosphere, an intimate drama of cognitive action in time”

How to find that balance that keeps the listener engaged. The idea of students listening to podcasts before class and on the way home, would, in one sense open the door of connecting further and communicating with conscious intentions from the teacher/instructor/facilitator of learning. But it does indeed seem to wind up the level of preparation needed by both students and teachers. I imagine that a teacher could record for one class and then use it for several semesters. But would that gap of time mean some relevance is lost?

It was interesting hearing my own voice when recording with Jing. I have heard it a few times before in different ways. I didn’t save the first recording and while I see faults in the two that I did save, I could see definite ways to improve upon them. I image with practice and preparation, screen casting would become easier and probably come out better too.

Extending the network

I’ve been have some interesting experiences with my excursions into the twittering, or is it tweeting, world. And as a result, some of my prior assumptions about the value of social media are under some kind of transformation. I’m not sure that I can clearly share what I’m getting just yet, but here’s a go at it. While there are definitely challenges to sorting through the volume of tweets coming in, I have likewise definitely found some interesting topics and links either through people that I follow, or by exploring tweets of people who are followed by people I follow (is that clear?!). Sometimes, I’ve found interesting things by just scanning some of the trending topics in Tweetdeck.

[photo source:]

Is there anyone out there?

Tossing around thoughts about my recent forays into the twitter world, developing a personal learning environment/network, and how a LMS fits into a learning picture, the image of a neural network came to mind. Is a PLN something like an extended neural network? Well, for one thing, any neurons I’m connecting with via the net aren’t really directly connected to my own. But through the exchange of experience, understanding, information, and knowledge, there is some kind of connection. I would say that at this point my extended neural network that works through the digital media world is still in an early growth stage.

Am I like the 2 or 3 year old who is learning to talk and puts his/her fingers into whatever is near, still learning to discern this from that and not yet really understanding the ways of working in this world? Or maybe I’m a bit further along in my development, but I don’t think so far, especially when considering the social media aspect. My extended neural network and the ability to understand and use digital media is probably closer to the neural development of an 8-10 year old. That’s just a guess without having really deep knowledge of the stages of neural development in the human being.

Anyway, I’m still experimenting, finding interesting stuff, going for a digital ride, at times, with uncertain outcomes except that I realize time has passed. Filter and focus are key ingredients to this recipe that seems to under continuous revision. I do believe that my learning network has increased. Twitter has opened the door to something more than google search. And while delicious is a result of a human touch, it’s not visible like with twitter. I don’t have a Facebook page and am not sure that I will anytime soon. I do have a Linked In profile and have participated in some of the forums there. I kind of like twitter with the ability to find and follow an interesting hashtag, search on topics. So, I do think I am extending my learning network. It’s mostly as a consumer at this point, but I think that’s a starting point. bookmarks