Obamagogy

image via Consumerist, from MoveOn

“What we’ve been doing is trying to teach people to do what Obama does during his speeches — to tell their own stories to motivate others,” he says. “You’re building this sense of commitment to both the values and people, but you’re structuring it purposefully to achieve goals like, ‘In this district, we need 2,000 votes.'”

Via Wired on October 29, 2008:

Obama is the first to successfully integrate technology with a revamped model of political organization that stresses volunteer participation and feedback on a massive scale.

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“Adult learning theory” in the Kindergarten classroom

From the New York Times on October 8, 2008:

The IBPYP model is based on inquiry, participation in the process of learning, and exploration. It is learner-driven, not-teacher dominated. Teachers act as facilitators in the learning process and children’s questions and interests are at the center of the classroom.

… In the current national climate of testing, we have to make time for creative expression. It is urgent. Children need some constructive form of release.

… Children express their creativity and intelligence in a variety of ways. By allowing students to safely explore beyond their typical boundaries, we are encouraging them to express themselves in unique ways in a positive, safe, non-judgmental environment. Performance and open-ended inquiry help us move beyond traditional models of education. The arts, performance, and inquiry are small steps we take to help our students regain ownership of their learning.

I have not been comfortable making a significant distinction between adults and children when looking at the needs of learners for the purpose of developing an idea of what an online component of a classroom could look like.

I have tended to think of learners in a spectrum, and have found that the factor of a learner’s chronological age has not been particularly useful as a way to make distinctions between learners.  From a developmental standpoint, I know that it is a factor due to the physiological processes that happen as we age.  However, it has seemed clear that some children demonstrate adult learning needs, and some adults have learning needs that resemble the needs associated with children.

In this article, we have principles that I have come to associate with adult education now being applied to children in kindergarten.  Children are being encouraged to be self-directed learners.  The idea that children cannot “own” their education is being challenged.

In our classrooms, inquiry comes alive through performance. This week in our kindergarten we are starting a unit called “We are Peacemakers.” In this unit, the children learn about sharing, cooperation, conflict resolution, expressing feelings, and building community. We start the unit by asking the children what they know about peace and being a peacemaker. We then use their questions and interests to guide the inquiry process.

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Integrating Technology with Adult Learning Theory

Near the top of a google search for “adult learning theory and education,” I found the article “Andragogy and Technology: Integrating Adult Learning Theory as We Teach with Technology” by Dolores Fidishun, Ed.D., Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, presented at the 2000 Mid-South Instructional Technology Conference, Middle Tennessee State University.

The article begins with this idea:

The principles of adult learning theory can be used in the design of technology-based instruction to make it more effective.

I share this sentiment and one of the reasons that I have developed this blog is to learn more about adult learning theories and how these ideas can be applied to the development of online educational resources.

Based on the application of adult learning theories, Dr. Fidishun offers several suggestions for the design of an effective online educational resource, including these specific design ideas:

One way to help students see the value of the lessons is to ask the student, either online or in an initial face-to-face meeting, to do some reflection on what they expect to learn, how they might use it in the future or how it will help them to meet their goals.

It becomes extremely important for those who are designing technology-based adult learning to use all of the capabilities of the technology including branching, the ability to skip sections a student already understands, and multiple forms of presentation of material which can assist people with various learning styles.

The instructor must find ways to move [dependent] learners into self-direction by giving them short, directed, concrete online tasks that provide the most “learning for the experience” to make these adults see the relevancy of online learning.

The design of technology-based instruction must include opportunities for learners to use their knowledge and experience. Case studies, reflective activities, group projects that call upon the expertise of group members and lab experiments are examples of the type of learning activities which will facilitate the use of learners’ already acquired expertise.

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