So much beauty, history, religious worship, and still so much turmoil. I am talking about Turkey and the photograph is of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. I was sitting on a 7th floor hotel terrace in May, looking at the beautiful view, enjoying good food, a nice cold beer, sunshine on my face and fresh air. I was wondering, why can't we all just live in peace? All the fighting and killing of innocent people is so messed up. How can there be so many bad people doing bad things? I think what triggered this line of thinking is the news report of a bomb that killed 50 people at a wedding today in southern Turkey. How does that grief and sadness heal?
I have read a number of books on Middle East history, so I really don't fully believe the stories regarding the current state of affairs. We are expected to accept that a bunch of unfortunate men after years of failure and frustration in the deserts of Syria and Iraq suddenly banded together and amassed organizational and fighting skills, and procured sophisticated weapons and obtained billions of US dollars in cash and military assets.
If the world was so righteous about stopping the world from buying blood diamonds from West Africa, why is there not the same consciousness blocking the sale of blood oil stolen by murderous ISIS thieves. How long could an unfunded army fight?
If the US military is so advanced in their training and weapons systems, how is it that the coalition forces haven't eradicated ISIS with all the fighting that has allegedly occurred. How did these unfortunate angry people get to be such resilient fighters. Even more disturbing, how is it that some people who are privileged with the gift of freedom abandon their home country to go and join ISIS and become murderers of innocent people?
Why isn't there a big price on the leader of ISIS? At what point will the coalition forces claim victory? For now I have to stick with my original thought...there is a lot of beauty out there and there is a lot of bad!
Wishing you peace,
I confess, I haven’t felt like blogging for a few weeks. In my defense, I have added plenty of interesting links and resources to this site from my classmates and external sources recently, but truthfully, I just don’t feel like sharing any opinions this week or last.
But I will! Because I have to write a blog for my PIDP 3240 course, I will take this obligation as an opportunity to reflect on why I don’t feel like blogging this week.
The main reason that I don’t want to blog right now is that I feel very physically tired. I flew to Toronto from Doha several weeks ago to take care of some important business matters. One of those matters was to see my oncologist. In January I had a large aggressive cancer removed from my body and with the lab work and medical tests just completed, my oncologist has confirmed that I am now cancer free.
That is pretty amazing and I must express my awe and sincere gratitude for Dr. Ryan Groll and his team at Toronto East General Hospital for their tremendous skill and dedication. My amazing cancer journey experience will be covered in its own blog another day because perhaps it might be a blog story that could be useful to another individual or their family dealing with cancer.
I am presently sitting in the airport in Istanbul with a 10 hour layover, as I make my way back to Doha where I work.That’s plenty of time for thinking! The international Ataturk airport is bustling with activity and crowded with travelers from all over the world. One would never know there was an attempted coup in the country or terrorist attacks at this airport in the past month. I enjoy my freedom so won’t be saying more than that on that topic at this time. There are plenty of blogs and journal articles already and the truth is out there, somewhere in the twilight zone for those who know how to discern the truth.
The other factor that I think that blog jammed me significantly is that it seems that there are already too many opinions and crazy notions out there in the news, media and blog spaces. Everybody seems to have an opinion whether it is an informed and accurate opinion or not. I am tired of reading so much garbage from journalists, bloggers and tweeters. It bothers me that that a well-executed social media strategy gives a party a distinct advantage in influencing the outcome of an election. So much for democracy truly representing the informed will of the people.
This week, I don’t really want to be part of the lies and distortion apparatus that is so prevalent in social media? Even though I try to stick with the facts and present them as I understand them, I feel that honest bloggers are in direct competition with professional bull shitters! How does anyone know what to believe on any topic anymore? I have read enough blogs now to realize that our use, in education philosophy, of the term critical thinking is perhaps far too flattering. How can anyone really think critically when we are all products of our education and environment and life experiences?
The recent US elections race is a tragic revelation of social media machinery at work and a demonstration of how sick and disharmonious we are becoming as a society. Anyone can see that Trump is not fit to run a nation and certainly not fit to be Commander In Chief with his tiny finger on the button for a nuclear attack. But while looking for the facts, did Clinton’s Democratic National Convention organizers really deliberately tamper with voter’s choices and do things to influence candidate selection outcomes within the Democratic Party. Doesn’t Hillary believe in democracy?
I won’t talk about Bill. He seems like a charming man, but most of us know what is and is not a sexual relationship. Let’s not mention George either. What deserving leader rants about a freaking axis of evil and weapons of mass destruction and attacks and destabilizes a nation then sows the seeds for the birth of a well-funded new terror organization called ISIS. Read the blogs if you want a head ache. On the one hand I am sad that the world has become so messed up, and on the other hand I am so tired of blatant lies from so many intentional and unintentional deceivers.
With the help of news, talking heads, social media, and blogging and tweeting, I think that we are in general more aware of a bunch of useless and unverified information. It appears that in spite of increased situational awareness we have become cumulatively more confused and uncertain about what is true and what isn’t in my opinion. We really don’t seem to know anything beyond a reasonable doubt. On that basis, the accepted and anticipated verdict is case dismissed!
In the meantime, I will try to find out if a good sleep and getting rid of jet lag helps ease the blog jam for next time!
The course I am taking on media enhanced learning is turning out to be quite interesting and surprising for me. I have discovered a number of things that I previously had absolutely no idea about. Specifically, for this blog I want to talk about my first impressions regarding the concept of 'new podcasting'.
Simply put....I was surprised and shocked to learn that thousands of people are creating their own podcasts and that some of these podcasts are even available on iTunes. I am referring to it as 'new podcasting' just for my own transition into a deeper understanding because my experience with the 'old podcasting' was listening to a convenient stored video recording of a lecture or seminar or even a meeting. Wow...I didn't anticipate this trend coming!
I was already trying to understand why and how people have the time to blog away for hours on end, writing for someone or no one. And now, I find that thousands of people are also talking their hearts out to anyone who wants to listen. I thought that was a pretty strange and random thing to do so I started listening to a variety of audio podcasts on a variety of topics. I was amazed at what I heard! What a bunch of clever talented people out there.
How did I not know about this? I feel humbled and a bit intimidated by all the very talented, knowledgeable and articulate folks. I don't expect that most podcasters are getting paid any money, but I can hear the pride and passion in many of the podcasts. It seems to me that many podcasters do have something interesting to say, and they just want to say it, even with no idea who may be listening or not.
It is a big commitment of time and effort to make a regular podcast. My respect now goes out to good podcasters. At minimum it must be a good mental exercise, requiring self- discipline, research, self-analysis, reflection and perhaps even engaging dialogue with listeners who respond.
Podcasters should be studied. Perhaps they have found a way to manage depression or create inspiration, or simply access their inner creativity. I have to say....the faceless podcasters have influenced me. I am not sure where I will find the time just yet.....but I will give this a whirl. I am thinking that I will start by making some songs that I perform into podcasts and see how they sound.
I also have to create a speaking audio podcast for this course...as proof that I am willing to face humiliation and embarrassment in the pursuit of knowledge and growth and overcoming the fears of doing new things like this.
So far, I am delighted to discover so many amazing resources available to support individuals who want to do some podcasting. I discovered that there are a number of companies providing the hosting for the podcasts and making podcasting easy (e.g. Pod Bean, and Lib syn). Because I am a newbie, of course I don't want to make a commitment and don't want to pay anything until I understand the value part of this endeavor. If I get hate mail after my newbie efforts, I might not be inclined to continue in this direction.
To get the ball rolling, I set up a free account with Podomatic. It was easy, fast and efficient. I even asked their online support staff that welcomed me by email to the site what software they recommend for recording the podcast. I received a rapid and friendly response and they mentioned that many beginners like me are very comfortable with the function and ease of use of a free download called Audacity.
I listened to a podcast about how to make a podcast and heard an enthusiastic testimonial that a wonderful microphone for creating high quality audio recordings is the Shure NV-88 Lightning Microphone. But I quickly learned that my combo-jack input on my laptop won't support the fancy microphone described above. So, the quest for knowledge and results continues and led me to learn that I can get a very good USB microphone, once I can figure out which one is the best value for the price.
Well I better end this blog so I can spend more time preparing the upcoming podcast. Surely, you must be getting tired of reading?
This journal is based upon my impressions and preliminary thoughts after reading the first three chapters of the book Teaching Naked (Bowen, 2012). This book is used as the main teaching text for the Vancouver Community College (VCC) online Course PIDP 3240 Media Enhanced Learning, in my case, led and facilitated by instructor, Brian Cassell of VCC. The statement that I reflected on for this first assignment is, "Games are ideal teachers, in part because they address different learning styles in sophisticated ways” (Bowen, 2012).
Objective. The above statement that games are ideal teachers could be generously described as very vague and ill-defined. Does an adult educator and teacher not address different learning styles in sophisticated ways for their diverse adult learners?
There is lack of consensus in the internet defining what an ideal teacher is, or even what a game is. The term ‘game’ is used to mean many different things; for example, game of chance, war game, fair game, head game, wild game, and board game and so on. Does the statement refer to a physical games such bowling or golf or is the statement implying that video games are the ideal teachers? For the purpose of this discussion I will consider games to include video games and online learning programs which could be considered like video games.
WebMD in a Video Game Addictions article states the following important point that also needs to be considered, “Compulsive video gaming is a modern-day psychological disorder that experts tell WebMD is becoming more and more popular.
Is it reasonable to suggest that games are the ideal teacher when it is possible that many purely recreational video games are not teaching learners what they need to know to thrive and grow in the real world? I don’t believe that many scholars would say that reactive adaptation is the same as critical thinking? The average American 21 year old will have played at least 10000 hours of games. (McGonigal, 2010, Prensky, 2010).
Does so much time spent playing mostly the same games over and over have any adverse effects? Bowen, (2012) states, “Our students, however, find requests not to text during these activities, (sic…concerts, lectures, movies, social activities…) strange, annoying and downright silly.” Do games, if they are to be called ideal teachers, not need to model ideal social values and behaviors, such as respect, compassion, consideration of others, responsibility, integrity, honesty, loyalty, and so on, like an ideal human educator should?
Reflective. Upon reflection I found that a number of statements in the first three chapters of Teaching Naked (Bowen, 2012) were annoying generalizations and not really considering some potentially destructive trends that may be happening in family structure and society (Taylor, 2013). There is no argument that some video games and teaching programs can efficiently help many game participants learn game or situation specific skills as they master the game or skill. This may include improved eye-hand coordination, intuition, logic and a number of other skills and abilities based upon the game design.
But, let’s reflect upon what is really happening. A game player is indeed learning something but it is by their own motivation, choices, interest, and determination combined with having the opportunity to discover and learn new things in their game learning environment. The game dynamic sets up a biofeedback loop, a reinforcement allowing the participant to quickly learn what is beneficial and what is not. It may be referencing very old studies, but B.F. Skinner in the 1930’s described the phenomenon of Operant Conditioning, where making a correct response was thought to stimulate the release of brain chemicals which elicited pleasure and reinforced the learned behavior (Mcleod, 2015).
Games and online lessons provide opportunities for learning according the objectives and strategies created by of the game or lesson designer. One could argue that games and lessons in and of themselves provide opportunities to learn but do not teach anything. When I look at a music sheet it does not teach me to play a new song. The delivery medium simply gives me information which I process and assimilate as I practice to learn the new song. Similarly, a video game just executes code written by the game programmers.
If video games are to be considered the ideal teacher then we should be prepared for a world where increasingly teachers will take a back seat in the game of teaching. We could in many instances leave teaching to automated teaching programs that can do a better job of interacting and adapting and even assessing the learning that is occurring.
Many administrators would agree that such education programs create an equal standard and can do a better job at many things including attendance, time assessment and grades record keeping. Many self-paced and self-directed courses or games are already available online in which the facilitation strategies and goals set by the adult educators and programmers are built into the programming and online delivery.
Of course online courses are very desirable and will continue to be a major growth industry. Why wouldn’t they be? They offer significant improvements in accessibility, convenience, profitability for the teaching institution and even cost savings for the learners. The bigger question remains in how to achieve the best learning outcomes overall, not just focusing on the cheapest and most efficient information delivery system.
Interpretive. Upon reflection, my interpretation is that Bowen does indeed make some generalizations that I don’t agree with, and perhaps skip some relevant social factors but so what! It is too early for me to form an impression of the book which may address my concerns in later chapters. I am here to learn and Bowen is very passionate about media enhanced learning and is emphatically making the point that there is a rapid cultural change affecting learners. I get the point that the traditional ways of teaching are generally not effective at engaging the modern learner. To be effective adult educators we must understand the characteristics of the adult learners and have a good level of working knowledge and awareness of the innovative media and technological tools and opportunities that we can use to engage the new socially connected learning community and individuals.
I have often seen the frustration that has gone along with the rapid pace of technological change. Operating systems change, software goes out of date, computers freeze, laptops can’t synchronize with media projectors and educators can look like fumbling buffoons if they aren’t prepared and can’t keep things on track in the classroom.
Not long ago, PowerPoint was considered such a marvelous innovative tool for presenting slides and information and now it is often nick-named as the death by PowerPoint teaching platform. Social Media currently has its own problems with too many players in the social media space all doing similar versions of the same task in a slightly different way.
My overall interpretation is that many of the technological changes that we are immersed in are here to stay. Some players will dominate the market over time. In the meantime, those adult learners that I wish to assist have been significantly influenced by the technological changes and I need to have a deep understanding of the changes that are taking place in the learners and the technology, and what additional knowledge and tools will best prepare me to be an effective adult educator.
Decisional. Thinking about the first three chapters has influenced me to make it a higher priority to make sure that the information that I use for teaching is relevant and engaging. I am more motivated to look for new ways to leverage technology and promote increased active learning in the classroom and online. I also plan to incorporate more social media participation, team-learning opportunities, and discussion and reflection activities when I am facilitating learning sessions for adult learners. Lastly, I am more open to the concept of being more available online for adult learners who want more information or discussion.
McLeod, S. (2015). Skinner-operant conditioning. Retrieved from:
Rauh, S. (2016). WebMD Video game addictions. Retrieved from:
Taylor, J. (2013). Is technology creating a family divide? Retrieved from:
Video Game addiction, (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.video-game-addiction.org/
PIDP 3100 Foundations in Education course may be completed for me but the PIDP 3240 Media Enhanced Learning is now just beginning!
The upcoming PIDP 3240 blogs will be related to my new learning, reflections, and critical thinking on media enhanced learning and how we as adult educators can best use the new technologies and teaching methodologies to support and facilitate the learning process.
Unless my current position changes, I currently view learning as an evolutionary process and feel that we need be cautious and guided by wisdom rather than fads and marketing campaigns when selecting and using technology to facilitate learning. Technology has distinct advantages in some areas such as the development of psycho motor skills but fast moving interactive processes do not allow much opportunity for reflection or critical thinking Contrary to the early chapters in Teaching Naked (Bowen, 2012), it is my opinion that we do not get knowledge from a flat screen, or a flat page for that matter. We simply get information, albeit in innovative and stimulating forms at times, that we may be able to use in our quest for knowledge and meaning.
I did learn one interesting thing already from the course text book Teaching Naked (Bowen 2012). Bain (2004), in describing the most successful college professors, states that "They understand that learning is emotional and that mental models (often called deep learning) change slowly." Now they tell me! And all this time I have been pushing myself hard and overriding my emotions and using logic and discipline to learn. This course could be interesting.
I have some pretty strong opinions and biases to overcome regarding the justification of 10,000 hours of gaming that the average American 21 year old is claimed to have played (McGonical, 2010; Prensky, 2010), but I will save that topic for an upcoming blog. My brain says, show me the evidence that society is better off and individuals are happier and feel more complete as a result of all this gaming 'learning'.
A Look at Prior Learning Assessments
Topic of Discussion: Prior Learning Assessments
New Insights. Do you think that it is fair or right that some adult learners’ can skip taking one or more accredited courses, and still somehow be granted the course credits, or exemption or admission to a course or program? Do they really have the same skill, knowledge and competency that one would expect see in those who took the pre-requisite course?
To learn more about these complex questions, my assigned learning partner for this assignment, Cindy W., and I agreed to research the topic of Prior Learning Assessments (PLA’s). We also agreed to meet after several weeks, to teach each other what we had learned from researching and reflecting on the topic. It was very interesting how the process of researching the same subject and then teaching each other and discussing our findings influenced our thinking. In my case, the learning allowed me to change my vote and expand my awareness and frame of reference regarding prior learning assessments. The following blog is my attempt to describe my thought journey in this exercise.
For starters, this assessment process goes by a variety of descriptive titles such as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) (Wikipedia 2012).
I initially approached this assignment with my notions already formed. My starting impression was that (PLA’s) were a bit tricky or underhanded and in the same fairness category as honorary doctorates which seem to be granted, at times, for political reasons rather than learning accomplishments. I thought that the RPL, PLA, and PLAR were processes that were contrived as a money grab, a short cut, a special enticement or offering from colleges to woo new students, an opportunity which could save time and money by allowing the skipping of some learning requirements. I even speculated that offering PLA’s might make even make some educational institutions more attractive to some students than other institutions by saving time or money to complete a program.
I confess, I received the convenience of course credits granted for prior learning in some courses in my own academic learning path. There was no real assessment of my skill, knowledge or competency. Perhaps that experience made me a bit skeptical of the process of PLA and that perception lingered until I delved more deeply into the matter while completing this assignment.
I went to the internet looking for everything negative to discredit PLA but instead I gained some new insights and understanding. I learned that the PLA process, while still not adequately standardized, it a very useful process that when done well significantly increases learning opportunities and offers many benefits to society. I learned that there are far more benefits to consider than risks. I read a summary sheet from Prior Learning Assessments Inside Out, containing opinions of adult educators who regularly work with PLA’s and found their reports both informative and enlightening PLAIO (2014).
A key factor that may be driving a demand for PLA’s is a rapid globalization of our world and widespread shortages of skilled trades and professions in many countries. There are veterans and other adult learners with significant knowledge and skills who are often not eligible, on the basis of their formal transcripts, to enter into higher education in a college or university. Necessity is forcing society to challenge the notion that the course credit showing on an official transcript is the only way to gain access or move forward along a formal educational path.
The insight that I gained from researching the topic of PLA’s is that I am much more aware of and supportive of the concept of using prior learning assessments when appropriate. I realize that there are challenges but there also tremendous opportunities for adult educators to contribute in a significant way as prior learning assessments take on a bigger role in the educational assessment, admission and administration process.
My insight from researching the topic is that adult educators should be prepared to teach a more diverse adult learner population as more adult learners from various backgrounds and parts of the world have greater access to education and become adult learners. More learners will result in an increased demand for adult educators both in conventional classrooms and in online course facilitation.
For some adult learners who are entering into a classroom after years of experiential learning in the workplace or a theatre of war, they may initially need more assistance from the adult educator to understand the learning process and feel connected with other adult learners in the same course. According to Klein-Collins (2010), studies have shown that adult learners who have been granted recognition for prior learning are more committed to learning and are less likely to drop out of their courses.
With greater use of prior learning assessments in the educational path, particularly for colleges, many adult educators will need to learn how to do prior learning assessments fairly, consistently and effectively. In addition, adult educators need to be able to be proficient and consistent in the prior learning assessment process.
In some countries, adult educators require certification to be able to conduct prior learning assessments. Adult educators are finding increasing opportunities to work with governments and universities to establish standards and policies for PLA.
Significant work also remains to be done by adult educators to contribute to the course accreditation process and transferability of academic credentials provincially, nationally and globally but that is a different issue and reflection. In some educational institutes, such as the Montana University System, (MUS) Montana University (2015), considerable work has been done on Prior Learning Assessment policy and procedures development. Entire teams of adult educators at MUS are dedicated solely to supporting and assisting adult learners to utilize and benefit from using the PLA process. With greater use of PLA’s many adult learners have improved access to adult learning opportunities in colleges and universities.
Prior learning assessments are also used in other ways to determine the skills, knowledge and competency of an individual going into a profession governed by legislation. As an example, doctors, nurses, laboratory technologists and other health professionals that come to Canada hoping to find work in their fields, are subject to a skills, competency and knowledge evaluation before they can be granted a licence to practice in the Canada. This applies even to health professionals hoping to practice in another province where the licencing boards conduct some form of PLA to determine suitability within their jurisdiction. In such instances, where competency and knowledge are critical, to public safety, such as an airline pilot or a surgeon, a glowing reference letter from a previous employer is not adequate to establish competency. Specific essential learned attributes must be tested and verified or the individual is required to retake some of the training and education as necessary.
A review of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Sciences CSMLS (2016) Prior Learning Assessment and Admissions guide, revealed a comprehensive and well-documented Prior Learning Assessment Process. This document is a good example of prior learning assessment principles being followed. The PLA policy is clearly defined, knowledge and skill competencies are standardized, and procedures are established and the PLA helps expedite the licencing process when it is appropriate.
Schinnerl (2001) who worked with the Ministry of Advanced Education in British Columbia in creating a “Suggested Policy Template for Undergraduates at British Columbia Universities” document identified key gaps in the PLS process that need to be addressed. This document is certainly worth reviewing by any educational organization or individual that is using or planning to use PLA’s. Schinnerl (2001), in preparing this document, consulted with 72 universities in three continents and identified the common practices and problems with PLA’s.
In spite of the excellent prior learning assessment policies and standards established in some organizations and educational institutions, the current lack of consistency in the standards established for PLA, is in my view, the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for adult educators.
An example of the skepticism regarding the subjectivity in the PLA process is demonstrated by the following excerpt from Stenlund (2010) which shows typical instructions to a PLA applicant. “Evidence for RPL that you submit must be current and may include: Letters and references, including confirmation from your employers, clients or community groups. References from your paid or unpaid work experience. Samples of your work, including reports, articles or publications”. The potential problem with the preceding is that it is not a true assessment of an individual’s prior learning.
“Such potential subjectivity can be damaging for the credibility of educational credentials if the eligibility for courses is perceived to be arbitrary, institution specific, discretionary and inconsistent. According to Krause (2012) “Credit for prior experience” is essentially the formula used by diploma mills to justify their fake degrees– the “PhD in life,” so to speak. So until that well-deserved bias is overcome, getting actual college credit from an actual college will be tricky Krause (2012)”.
Adult educators because of their close relationship with adult learners are in the best position to observe and monitor the adult learners’ progress and assess the learning process. Adult educators need to be proactive in making recommendations to educational administrators for ongoing review and improvements of the educational process.
Trends. There is a demographic shift globally showing an increased proportion of senior citizens and also an increase in retirees. There is an upward trend in number of adult learners globally. The number of female adult learners is also increasing, United Nations Statistics Division (2015). There is an increase in the number of female adult educators in Canadian secondary and post-secondary institutions Statistics Canada (2009).
There is increased use of prior learning assessments by educational establishments, particularly colleges, to open the door for more adult learners to be accepted for enrollment in various educational programs. Lakin (2015) states that “Credit for prior learning is gaining traction as one strategy for advancing post secondary degree attainment”.
There has been a trend in the job market of demanding higher level credentials. Where a baccalaureate degree was once applauded as a significant academic achievement, that learning milestone and triumph is often shunned now in favour of higher educational milestones such as Master or Doctorate.
There is widespread consensus regarding the need for increased standardization of prior learning assessments and the development and adoption of international standards and a number of high level formal bodies have been established to better govern the process of prior learning assessments Lakin (2015).
With a growing interest and increased demand in higher education there will be increased utilization of adult educators to fill that need. There is increased competition for educational institutions to attract students. With reference to the intense competition to attract students and using the practice of prior learning assessments to improve access to higher education, Schinnerl (2001) states that “if universities fail to respond to changing learning populations it is inevitable that alternative educational providers will seize the opportunity”. This competitive pressure is causing a trend in increased utilization, by many universities, of prior learning assessments in the adult learner admission process.
Learning Partner Consultation. The teaching exercise with my learning partner was very engaging and insightful. Although it seemed that we had come to essentially the same conclusions about the research findings regarding PLA the discussion deepened my analysis and interpretation of the information.
Starting with the lack of standard terminology, i.e. PLA, PLAR, and RPL we agreed that consensus is lacking in many aspects the subject of prior learning assessments. When it comes to prior learning assessments, there is a lack of consensus in purpose, policy, procedures, and even educational outcomes. We agreed that getting course exemptions or credits because of successful PLA’s may be the fastest and cheapest route to complete a set of studies and earn a diploma or certificate, but at what real cost? Is the earned credential as good and does it matter? Everyone’s learned knowledge and skills diminish over time anyway, if the skill or knowledge is not used.
Discussing and learning from each other brought a new perspective and even more questions, such as “when seeking prior learning assessment and recognition what is the primary motive of the adult learners”? “When offering PLA’s, what is the motive of the educational institution”? We agreed that using PLA’s is an innovative way to attract students, and offer the chance to save time and money, or even gain college admission when it wasn’t previously possible for some adult learners.
Because of the team learning exercise, we found ourselves engaging in conversations that were previously not considered. For example, we both agreed that anything that raises the level of learning and knowledge in society is ultimately good for society. Does the actual certificate or diploma or degree matter so much in the context of lifelong learning? How long after a PhD is earned does the individual forget the essence of what they researched? I do have my doctorate, but there is no possible way that I could pass my final exams if I had to write those exams now, decades after I first earned my degree.
If getting a few required courses waived by a successful PLA reduces some expenses and time, why wouldn’t an adult leaner go for that option and also select the educational institution that is offering such progressive terms? Many universities for various reasons have reportedly held back more than the colleges in the general acceptance and use of PLA’s to waive some required courses for adult learners Schinnerl (2001).
However, for economic reasons, more universities are now attempting to follow the lead of the colleges and make greater use of the PLA’s to be more attractive to adult learners from a wider range of backgrounds. Based upon the research that my learning partner and I did, the real issue regarding PLA’s is how to use the prior learning assessment tool to truly support quality, access and equity in adult learning.
Following the learning discussion it is my view that the PLA tool has a number of significant attractive features that promote adult learning and, as a result, it is a tool that is going to see increased utilization in promoting educational opportunities for adult learners. With the increased use of PLA’s it is imperative that Prior Learning Assessments Policy and Procedures should be mandated and standardized and have oversight at a national level.
Because of the fact that human memories can fade and manual skills can deteriorate over time when not used, the discussion led us to agree as a final point in the available time, that PLA’s should not be used to bypass relearning critical competency knowledge and skills in safety sensitive skills and positions. For example, an airplane navigator who has not flown for 10 years should not be granted prior learning credit for the prior navigation skills and knowledge because that knowledge is out of date. The instruments and procedures required for navigation have changed completely in the past decade and it is essential to refresh what was previously learned.
Although this was a brief exercise the learning partner experience demonstrated the creative benefit of collaboration and discussion of complex topics. As a result of the discussion and seeing the subject through another adult learners thoughts and experiences, many new ideas emerged which resulting in me learning and understanding more about the subject of prior learning assessments. One take away that I will incorporate more in future lesson planning is to provide more opportunities for adult learners to enhance and deepen their learning by teaching what they have learned to others.
Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science. Retrieved from
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. Retrieved from http://www.cael.org
Klein-Collins, R., (2010). Fueling the race to postsecondary success: A 48-institution study of
prior learning assessment and adult student outcomes.
Lakin, M.B., (2015). The Council of State Governments Knowledge Center.
Credit for prior learning: Transfer models across the nation. Retrieved from
Montana University. (2015). Prior learning assessment expanded policy recommendations. https://mus.edu/2yr/PLA/Documents/MT%20PLA%20Expanded%20Policy%20Recommendations%209-11-15%20FINAL.pdf
Prior Learning Assessment Inside Out. (2014). Volume 2, Number 2 Retrieved from:
Schinnerl, S., (2001). Suggested policy template for undergraduates at British Columbia
universities. Retrieved from
Stenlund, T. (2010). Assessment of prior learning in higher education: A review from a validity
perspective. Assessment & evaluation in higher education, 35(7), 783-797. Retrieved
Lesson Plan Components
Component 1: Characteristics of Adults as Learners
Website URL: http://ctle.hccs.edu/facultyportal/tlp/seminars/tl1071SupportiveResources/Ten_Characteristics_Adults-Learners.pdf
Rationale for selecting this resource
This excellent summary of Ten Characteristics of Adults as Learners’ document was written by Dr. Gary Kuhne for "ADTED 460 - Introduction to Adult Education," a course offered through Penn State's World Campus.
I selected this document because it is insightful, comprehensive and very concise. As well as the ten characteristics of adults as learners described in very clear and practical terms, the implications of the characteristics are also discussed.
Remembering to always take time to get to know and understand the learning audience will help me facilitate the learning process for adult learners in a relevant and suitable manner.
Component 2: Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Website URL: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/tips-for-teaching-adult-students/
Rationale for selecting this resource
This useful webpage is from Faculty Focus Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications, Brooks Doherty (2012) Dean of faculty at Rasmussen College in Minnesota.
I selected this article for its clarity and authenticity. The recommendations made and the rationale provided by Doherty resonate with my own understanding and experience as an adult learner. I know that when I can’t readily see or hear the facilitator or the learning location is too cold or too dark or distracting, it can significantly impede the learning process. I will always try to ensure the learning environment is supportive to the adult learner.
Component 3: Motivational Techniques
Website URL: http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/isd/30-ways-to-motivate-adult-learners/ The eLearning Coach, Connie Malamed
Rationale for selecting this resource
This webpage from The eLearning Coach, Connie Malamed briefly discusses what motivation is and provides thirty great suggestions on how to motivate adult learners.
I selected this resource because it provides a more detailed list of points to consider than most of the other articles that I reviewed for connecting with and motivating adult learners. The resource appears to be based upon practical insights rather than theory.
I expect to improve my instruction techniques by being a bit more flexible when facilitating adult learning. When appropriate, I will utilize additional motivating strategies that I had not previously used or considered.
Component 4: Assessment
Website URL: https://teal.ed.gov/tealguide/lessonplanning
Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) Just Write! Guide February 2012.
Rationale for selecting this resource
I selected this resource from TEAL which discusses the importance of first establishing the learning objectives then assessing the adult learner, before during and after the facilitated learning to show how the adult learning objectives were met.
The warm-up, introduction, presentation, practice, evaluation, application, acronym WIPPEA, is a lesson plan model in which each learning concept builds on the previous one (Hunter, 1982). This six-step lesson planning approach has learners demonstrate mastery of concepts and content at each step before the instructor proceeds to the next step. I will improve my instruction by incorporating the WIPPEA approach into my lesson planning.
Component 5: Media (Possible Considerations)
Website URL: http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/ch6.html
Rationale for selecting this resource
This in-depth resource from Athabasca University (Fahy, 2004) entitled Media Characteristics and Online Learning Technology reviews the attributes and effects of conventional media such as print and text, still graphics and illustrations, sound and music, video and moving graphics, and multimedia on adult learners.
I selected this article because it is evidence based, comprehensive and detailed. It answered many of my questions and concerns regarding how and when to best use the various media options with adult learners. Incorporating what I have learned and updating my instructional resources will make my lessons more contemporary and vibrant.
Doherty, B., (2012). Faculty focus, Tips for teaching adult students. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/tips-for-teaching-adult-students/
Fahy, P.J., (2004). Athabasca University. Media characteristics and online learning technology. Retrieved from http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/ch6.html
Kuhne, G., (2016). ADTED 460 - Introduction to adult education. Ten characteristics of adults as learners. Penn State’s World Campus Retrieved from http://ctle.hccs.edu/facultyportal/tlp/seminars/tl1071SupportiveResources/Ten_Characteristics_Adults-Learners.pdf
Malamed, C., (2014). The eLearning Coach. Get your audience pumped: 30 ways to motivate adult learners. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/isd/30-ways-to-motivate-adult-learners/
TEAL, (2012.) Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy. Just Write! Guide. Retrieved from https://teal.ed.gov/tealguide/lessonplanning
This journal is a compilation of four personal reflections based upon quotes from four different learning theorists mentioned in the text Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice (Merriam and Bierema, 2014). My reflections are based upon my new learning and understanding of the adult learning process from reading about and researching the following five basic learning theories: Behaviorism, Humanism, Cognitivism, Social Cognitive Theory and Constructivism.
The quote that I reflected on for this first category is, " 21st century competencies include deep understanding, flexibility and the capacity to make creative connections and a range of so called 'soft skills' including good team-working (Dumont and Istance 2010).”
Objective. The above quote highlights for me the acknowledgement that the very nature of learning is evolving rapidly and the level of unifying, and globalizing knowledge in many societies’ is increasing. The reference to good team-working caught my attention because all countries of the world need to work together and function more as a human-team to address the challenges of modern society.
From my perspective, real human team-work is not just another soft skill. Using knowledge and deeper understanding and flexibility appears to be essential to the long-term survival of the human race. The deep understanding statement evokes for me the hope that true human-team work will eventually arise and it will be as a result of critical learning and applied knowledge.
Reflective. The quote from Dumont and Istance (2010) emphasized for me the notion that good teaching is far more vital and far reaching to individuals, society and humanity as a whole than I previously considered. It also occurs to me that learning false information can prevent the development and assimilation of knowledge and result in catastrophic social consequences such as war, racism, discrimination and bigotry.
Interpretive. Reflection upon the quote made me realize more clearly that proper adult education is essential to a healthy society capable of changing, growing, working together and being creative to solve problems. On the other hand, it was startling to me when I contemplated that adult education is also commonly used to deceive society by using various social education strategies such as dishonest social marketing, propaganda, election campaigns, and other false advertising initiatives.
Decisional. Thinking about the quote has influenced me to make it a higher priority to make sure that the information that I use for teaching is relevant and accurate. I also plan to incorporate more participation, team-learning opportunities, and reflection activities when I am facilitating learning sessions for adult learners.
The quote that I focused on for this second reflective exercise is, “an educated person is one who has learned how to learn…how to adapt and change” Rogers (1969).
Objective. Reflecting on this quote forced me to stop and contemplate what Rogers meant when using the term educated. Do only educated people learn how to learn, adapt and change? Nature shows us clearly that most animal species have the inherent ability to learn, adapt and change. Are they educated?
When searching for related literature, I quickly learned that there is very little consensus regarding the generally accepted definition of an educated person. Some measures of education focus on literacy, enrolment rates in primary school, number of college graduates, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2016).
Other writers, such as William Cronon (1998) in the article, "Only Connect...: The Goals of a Liberal Education, The American Scholar, Volume 67, No. 4, Autumn attempts to define the characteristics of the educated person as follows: “More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections so as to be able to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways...listening, reading, writing, talking, puzzle‐solving, seeing the world through others’ eyes, empowering others, leading—every last one of these things is finally about connecting.”
The concept that sticks with me the most is the importance of learning how to learn, and how that enables the development of knowledge and the ability to adapt and change as necessary.
Reflective. What I learned about teaching as a result of this quote is that more and more the emphasis in adult education is shifting away from just delivering core or required information and focusing more on helping the learner to develop their learning process. Information will often change, but the process for learning will continue, resulting in ongoing growth, development and knowledge acquisition.
Interpretive. This quote did not elicit an ‘aha’ moment for me but it did force me to ask a very important question. Can I make a person educated? One key insight that I have from reflecting on the quote and searching the internet is that there is no consensus on a specific definition for an educated person. Instead, an educated person may best be described as a person who has developed very positive adaptive and survival characteristics based upon their ability to learn, and develop greater knowledge and awareness of themselves, others and their surroundings.
Decisional. My insights from reflection on the quote will guide me to place more emphasis on the individual learner and learning process in future rather than the content and presentation methodology. During my reflection I realized that I am good at keeping my audience entertained and engaged in the show. Now I realize that I focused on my material and delivery, as any performer would. And yes, the adult learners were entertained and engaged, but now I am wondering how much they actually learned. I have to believe that having fun while receiving critical information in a relevant context somehow makes the message more memorable. Perhaps I will figure something out after more refection.
The quote that I reflected on for this third journal is, “…some suggested strategies for engaging in critical reflection possibly leading to transformative learning are modeling and peer learning (Brookfield, 2009), storytelling and dialogue (Tyler, 2009), coaching (Fisher-Yoshida, 2009), and action learning conversations (Marsick & Maltibia, 2009)”.
Objective. This quote caught my attention because quite simply put, each of the strategies mentioned was very effective at stimulating my learning process as I was growing up. I always marveled at how easy it seems to remember good stories, and how much faster I could learn a task, like a playing a new song on my guitar, when I watched my friends doing it. Whatever my friends could do I quickly learned how to also do, and vice versa.
I loved having a good coach when trying to get better at anything. Upon reflection, I realize that the coaches made me enjoy the process of learning. Once they defined and clarified the goals and showed me what I was capable of, and helped me find my confidence to achieve the goal, it was pure enjoyment of learning. Practice was fun and learning was so gratifying. I realize that my coaches taught me how to learn at a young age. Even after my coaches were no longer available I followed the same pattern of problem solving and learning.
Reflective. I learned from reflection on this quote that my emotional state had a great influence on the ease of learning for me. When I was interested in or even passionate about something, whether it was golf or tennis or some hobby, every time I wanted to know more or understand something better or get better at a task, I learned so quickly and easily and the knowledge seems to last.
Upon reflection, the best or most successful teachers and coaches were the ones that helped me find my passion and hunger for learning and understanding new things. At times, some profound life experiences were so powerful that they changed me very quickly. Upon reflection, I have a better understanding that those experiences were examples of transformative learning. Interestingly, even without a formal educational learning plan, those profound transformative learning experiences often involved considerable reflection, dialogue, a mentor, peer modeling, soul searching and ultimately learning and new knowledge that made me feel more connected within my life experience.
Interpretive. What stood out for me when reflecting on this quote is how I could personally relate to the quote and the sense of agreement that it elicited for me. This quote helped reinforce for me how important it is to go far beyond the information and find the ways to help the adult learner connect with the relevance of the information. That connection helps empower the adult learner to take interest in the learning the information so that it can be turned into useful and relevant knowledge. My one key insight is that I need to include in lesson planning more strategies mentioned in the quote for engaging adult learners in critical reflection.
Decisional. My insight from reflection upon the quote is that where the opportunities exist, I will aim to introduce one or more of the learning strategies discussed in the quote. I will also attempt to become less of a slave to my lesson plan and go with it, to the extent that it is reasonable, when relevant spontaneous learning opportunities arise within the adult learners group.
The quote that I reflected on for this fourth journal is, “we may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think Taylor (2009)”.
Objective. Reflection upon this quote made me laugh out loud. What stood out for me was my initial impression and reminder that what may be profoundly obvious to some may not be obvious to all. Then I researched and reflected a little deeper and realized that the matter is not so defined in the world of psychology experts and one can get very philosophical and controversial regarding the very essence of what is meant by the terms feeling and thinking.
In his lecture entitled What is Called Thinking, Martin Heidegger (1976) asserts that we “learn to think by giving our mind to what there is to think about”. He further asserts that not everyone can think. I think that his above statement is not helpful and is possibly not very popular. But, upon further reflection, is my opinion based on my thinking or just my reflexive reaction to my disagreement with what Heidegger was stating based upon my current level of awareness.
If one has to learn to think before they can think, as stated by Heidegger (1976) perhaps that is a bit of a quandary. Can one learn if they can’t think? In Pavlov’s classic conditioning experiments Pavlov demonstrated how dogs experientially learned to associate the sound of a bell with imminent delivery of food.
One can get more sophisticated and use terms like operant conditioning, B.F. Skinner (1938) but for the purpose of this reflection on Taylors’s quote, did the change in the dog’s behaviour involve thinking? Pavlov’s dogs felt the pleasure and gratification of the food reward and learned a new behaviour that increased the opportunity for that pleasure. Did the dogs think about what was going on and train Pavlov to ring a bell and then feed them? That would certainly be an added convenience for the dogs to have an audible alarm for food time.
Perhaps frequent misuse use of the word think in everyday dialogue creates some of the confusion. For example, I think I need to go to the washroom, I think I am hungry, I think I am going to be sick are not examples of thinking but rather expressions of feelings.
When looking at a human infant it is quite apparent that we are born as feeling creatures. We cannot speak, we cannot solve problems, we cannot engage in rational thought. We perceive our environment through our basic senses, and over time develop a sense of self in relation to that environment.
What I learned from reflection on Taylor’s quote is to remember that not everything is clear or known or certain and many theories abound on almost everything. To adult learners some information may initially seem nonsensical or even idiotic. It is still an extremely important part of the learning process to be able to do critical thinking and reflection and be able to make sense and meaning out of information. Adult learners often want fact, but the facts are not always available. The internet is proof that not everything that is posted is credible just because it is on the internet. However, the process of critical thinking, reflection, and dialogue, will stimulate thinking and promote learning.
Reflective. I am reminded from reflecting on Taylor’s quote that adult learners come from diverse backgrounds and life experiences and nothing should be taken for granted regarding how information is initially perceived or processed. Everyone perceives information in the context of their current understanding which is influenced by many variable factors. I realize more and more that effective teaching is about facilitating the learning process rather than just delivering information in an engaging and enjoyable way.
Interpretive. Reflecting upon Taylor’s quote impressed upon me that thinking and feeling coexist in the human experience and it is important to be cognizant of the feeling component when teaching adult learners. Thinking leads to learning and learning leads to thinking.
My initial personal experience when researching the theories on thinking and feeling was that there is a great amount of contradictory and controversial information that adult learners must be able to quickly assess as valid or invalid.
On a personal note, when I can’t relate to the information that I am being presented with, I am not as receptive to learning it, unless of course a mark or grade depended upon it. Extending that personal insight to other adult learners I will make an effort, when teaching complex or controversial topics, to better understand the feelings of the adult learners towards the subject matter and address barriers through discussion, reflection and other suitable means.
Decisional. Reflecting on Taylor’s quote has influenced me to decide to spend a bit more time with Adult Learners when teaching sensitive or controversial subjects to address and understand their feelings and attitudes and identify potential barriers to learning. The reflective exercise has opened my mind to focusing more on the learning process for adult learners.
Cronon, W. (1998). Only Connect...: The goals of a liberal education. The American Scholar.
Volume 67, No. 4, Autumn
Dumont, H., Istance, D. (2010). The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice.
Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/50300814.pdf
Fisher-Yoshida, B. (2009). Coaching to transform perspective.
Heideger, M. (1976). What is called thinking. Retrieved from
Marsick, V.J., Maltbia, T.E. (2009). The transformative potential of action learning
conversations: Developing critically reflective practice skills.
Merriam, S.B., Bierema, L.L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice.
Rogers, C.R. (1969). Freedom to learn. Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Tyler, J.A. (2009). Charting the course: How storytelling fosters communicative learning in the
UNESCO, (2016). Institute for Statistics. Fact sheets. Retrieved from
Hello and Welcome!
Congratulations! You are possibly the first human being ever to read my blog! Well, at least, the first line of my blog anyway. I am not quite sure if I am making a confession, excuse or an apology.
I hope that this blog will somehow be purposeful or entertaining for you in some small way. Being a newbie, I haven't quite figured out where this is headed. Here is my reality check....as this chapter opens, I find myself in new and unfamiliar territory. I am typing and talking to myself, as I attempt to write this blog. It seems a bit bizarre for a private fellow like me to be trying to write a blog but I have a reasonable explanation.
I have embarked on a journey to learn more about how education and learning works, and earn a Provincial Instructors Diploma from Vancouver Community College. One of the assignments is to set up a blog and become more familiar with social media and other popular technological means of communication.
Before getting thrust into this exercise, I often wondered why many people put so much time and effort into writing a blog? I think I presumed that many bloggers might be lonely and feeling isolated or not well enough understood. Now I wonder if perhaps many bloggers might just be on some assignment or mission.
I have now read a few blogs from random strangers to try to get a sense of typical blogging etiquette and dialogue. It appears to me that bloggers are just writers expressing themselves however they feel like doing so in the moment. I guess there must be perceived benefit because millions of bloggers are at it.
It seems that blogging anonymity offers some reduction in the social fear factor regarding accountability for saying what you really think. Some bloggers seem to share so much personal information that it is as if their persona is fully naked and vulnerable. Perhaps getting rid of fear and inhibition is cathartic for some. I think I will keep my verbal clothes on for now, thanks!
It is intriguing to me to get a deeper glimpse into what others are feeling, fearing, worried about, passionate about, doing, and planning. After reading less than a dozen blogs I am feeling pretty relieved and grateful that my life is the way it is. I have noted that some people have amazing insights and write very well.
On the other hand, some bloggers seem to have an axe to grind and they might benefit from constant scrutiny from the CIA or NSA or some other agency to protect themselves or others from their dark and evil thoughts.
What I have learned so far is that Weebly, as one blog space provider, makes setting up a blog space very easy.
The hardest part was selecting a username that was not already taken. I also learned that many people use blogging for many different reasons. I can see how blogging could be a very useful information exchange tool. Many bloggers seem to get very engaged in their word creations.
My general notion at this point is that any tool that better connects people and stimulates creativity, communication and learning is potentially good for society and worth looking into.
I don't know how many words a blog should be, and perhaps it doesn't matter. However I believe that time is precious and you have given enough of your time to read my first blog this far, so thank you.