Journals

Course Journal: Category 1

In 2012, Crowther wrote “There are few educators who would disagree with the principle that lifelong learning is a good thing but the important questions are about the types of learning that the concept promotes, the life that it encourages us to lead, who benefits from this, and the nature of society that it upholds.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 20/21)

Lifelong learning may be broadly defined as learning that is pursued throughout life: learning that is flexible, diverse and available at different times and in different places. Lifelong learning crosses sectors, promoting learning beyond traditional schooling and throughout adult life. This definition is based on Delors’ (1996) four ‘pillars’ of education for the future.

Objective: What I have learned from reflecting on this quote and what has caught my attention.

I’ve learned that lifelong learning isn’t just about post secondary education or about trying to remain competitive in the labour market. It’s a worldly concept (with different national trends) that has a social purpose.

“Societal literacy, in contrast to individual literacy, becomes a necessary reinforcing context for everyone participating in the different dimensions of social life, and motivates people to integrate their learning activities.” (Singh, 2002, p. 15) To me this quote speaks to lifelong learning being not just about the individual but about society as a whole. Learning fosters social and economic well-being. This learning can be formal and non-formal as well as informal and part of everyday life.

I also learned that Canada uses the Composite Learning Index (CLI) to measure progress in lifelong learning; it is the only one of its kind. The CLI is an objective and reliable measurement tool that can help communities make the best possible decisions about learning—decisions that will strengthen social ties, bolster the economy and hopefully improve people’s lives. The statistical indicators used in the CLI were chosen to best reflect the full spectrum of learning as proposed by the four pillar framework. (Composite Learning Index Website, 2010)

The Four pillars are: Learning to Know, Learning to Do, Learning to Live Together, and Learning to Be. Learning to Know involves the development of knowledge and skills that are needed to function in the world. These skills include literacy, numeracy and critical thinking. Learning to Do involves the acquisition of skills that are often linked to occupational success, such as computer training, managerial training and apprenticeships. Learning to Live Together involves the development of social skills and values such as respect and concern for others, social and inter-personal skills and an appreciation of the diversity of Canadians. Learning to Be involves activities that foster personal development (body, mind and spirit) and contribute to creativity, personal discovery and an appreciation of the inherent value provided by these pursuits.

Reflective: What I have realized about teaching as a result of this quote.

I keep coming back to the question of what kind of learning the concept of lifelong learning promotes. I read that in Sweden, the National Agency for Education has put forward a conceptual framework for both lifelong learning and life-wide learning. Lifelong learning is seen as a holistic view of education and recognizes learning from different environments. The framework consists of two dimensions. The first being lifelong learning, recognizing that individuals learn throughout a lifetime. The second dimension is life-wide learning, recognizing the formal, non-formal and informal settings.

The lifelong dimension is fairly simple; it’s a continuous process of learning, updating skills and competencies from birth to death.

The life-wide dimension is more complex; it involves multiple settings and environments where learning takes place. For example, formal: universities, non-formal: on-the-job training, informal: families.

Interpretive: My “Aha!” moment when I read this quote. How this quote changed my mind about being an adult educator. My one key insight I now have as a result of this quote.

Lifelong learning is so much more that what I had initially thought it to be. I’ve always looked at it from an individual or career perspective. That it’s been my professional responsibility, as a nurse, to continue to educate myself and apply it to my practice and share this knowledge with others. “LPNs are lifelong learners and foster the professional growth and development of colleagues. They take advantage of practice supports and learning opportunities and integrate their learning into practice.” (“Scope of Practice,” 2015, p. 13)

After further reflection on the last part of the quote that states “…who benefits from this, and the nature of society that it upholds.” I don’t feel who is the individual person or learner. Yes the person doing the learning, such as a course related to their job, is of benefit. The employer may also benefit, but is that where it stops? No, I now think of who as not only the individual learner but also the people in the community and society as a whole who benefit as a result of this learning.

This quote has helped me to realize that lifelong learners may think what they are learning is for their own benefit, but it also has an impact within the society or community they are a part of. I feel a stronger sense of responsibility as an educator not only to motivate learners but to also understand what motivates them, looking at both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. This also ties into my chosen learning theory of behaviorism, as well as my teaching philosophy.

Lifelong learning is happening all around us in many different settings every day.  It’s not just in the form of formal learning and extends far beyond the classroom. It not just about taking a continuing education class to upgrade skills; it’s about community, jobs, personal development and physical well-being. Lifelong learning is holistic.

“… learning in all aspects of life is critical to the success of individuals, communities and the country as a whole. On an individual level, Canadians stand to benefit from lifelong learning through higher wages, better job prospects, improved health and more fulfilling lives. Accordingly, Canada stands to gain through a more resilient economy and stronger bonds within and between communities.”  (Composite Learning Index Website, 2010)

Decisional: How this quote and the insight I have gained from reflecting upon it influenced my notion of teaching.

“Learning is an overarching concept often applied to adults to capture the all-encompassing nature of learning in adulthood” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 23) There is a direct relationship between learning, and the social and economic well-being of communities. Lifelong learning should be encouraged in our communities starting from birth, not just applied to adults in the classroom.

This quote has inspired me to think deeper about how I teach, where I teach and why I teach. It broadens my perspective on teaching and from providing educational knowledge in formal classroom settings to moving to a more “learner-centered” non-formal teaching approach in non-conventional classrooms. This process of reflection has helped me realize the responsibilities of an educator and how what I teach may not only have an impact on the learner’s life but on society. I hope one day I can help students gain insight to the importance of lifelong learning and reflect on the areas where they can contribute to the social economic aspect of their community and help it grow.

References

Composite Learning Index Website. (2010). http://www.cli-ica.ca

Delors, J. (1996). Learning: The Treasure Within. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/15_62.pdf

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice (1st ed.). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Scope of Practice for Licensed Practical Nurses. (2015). Retrieved October 16, 2015, from https://www.clpnbc.org/Documents/Practice-Support-Documents/Scope-of-Practice-ONLINE.aspx

Singh, M. (Ed.). (2002). Institutionalising Lifelong Learning. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/uie/pdf/ILLBOOK.pdf

Course Journal Category 2

In 19080, Knowles introduced four assumptions about adult learners. The first assumption is based on “the learner’s self concept.” The second spoke to “an adult’s life experiences”. The third assumption is around an adult’s “readiness to learn”. Finally, the fourth assumption of andragogy being that adult learning is usually “problem-centered orientation.”  There were two more assumptions published later. This journal will reflect on the following quote:

“adults are problem-centered, not subject-centered, and desire immediate, not postponed application of the knowledge learned.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 46-53)

Objective: What I have learned from reflecting on this quote and what has caught my attention.

“Problem-centered learning is preferred by adults because it is more engaging and lends itself to immediate application, which in turn solidifies the learning.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 54) Although, there is no doubt that “some adults learn for the sheer joy of learning . . . and not to deal with an immediate problem.” For example, I learned to play the piano simply because I enjoyed it; there was no immediate “problem” to be solved.

Reflecting back on my nursing education, it is clear that the information that I remember and appreciate is the information that I use almost every day. Standards of practice, common ailments, medications, and skills I practiced over and over again until they were perfect are things I’ll remember for a long time. The information that I find difficult to remember is the information that I do not use. Uncommon drugs and skills I haven’t used in years are all but a fleeting memory. Or how about all the prerequisite courses I’ve had to complete in order to get into some of the different programs I’ve taken, that information never to be used again… sigh. As I now near the end of this particular course on my journey through the PIDP, I look to see what information is immediately applicable to my job or my life. Like most adult learners, I am problem-centered, and I value knowledge that is immediately useful. Information that is not problem-centered takes time and effort to learn and is often easily forgotten.

Reflective: What I have realized about teaching as a result of this quote.

            “. . . adults bring a wealth of information and experiences to a learning situation and, therefore, generally want to be treated as equals who can assume responsibility for their own learning” (Zemke & Zemke, 1984). As Knowles suggested in 1984, there are four principles that are applied to adult learning:

  1. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.
  2. Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for the learning activities.
  3. Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.
  4. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.

(Kearsley, 2010)

Interpretive: My “Aha!” moment when I read this quote. How this quote changed my mind about being an adult educator. My one key insight I now have as a result of this quote.

“Malcolm Knowles makes extensive use of a model of relationships derived from humanistic clinical psychology . . . However, Knowles adds in other elements which owe a great deal to scientific curriculum making and behaviour modification. These encourage the learner to identify needs, set objectives, enter learning contracts and so on. In other words, he uses ideas from psychologists working in two quite different and opposing traditions (the humanist and behavioral traditions). This means that there is a rather dodgy deficit model lurking around this model.” (Smith, 2002)

I thought this was interesting as behaviorist and humanistic philosophies have underlying assumptions that are “inherently contradictory” and are an unlikely combo. The behaviorist purpose of education is “to ensure compliance with expectations or standards,” whereas the humanistic purpose is to “enhance individual self-development – which may or may to meet anyone else’s expectations or standards.”

I wonder if there is a little constructivism mixed in as well – with the view of constructing meaning from experience.

Decisional: How this quote and the insight I have gained from reflecting upon it influenced my notion of teaching.

Adult learners are often loaded with many responsibilities, such as working overtime, raising a family, maintaining good health, etc. that they do not have the extra energy or time to invest in learning that is not practical or that they haven’t specifically made time for because they enjoy it.

When creating assignments and projects ask learners to relate what they are learning to a current or past life situation, this will help the learner apply theory to practice while also encouraging the learner to share individual experiences. “Online facilitators must release control of the virtual classroom to learners and allow them to apply their experience and knowledge to learning, while remaining cognizant of learner needs for guidance (Palloff & Pratt, 2001). Likewise, learners must be willing to draw on available resources and exercise self-responsibility to seek help when needed (Burge, 1988).”

References

Blondy, L. C. (2007). Evaluation and application of andragogical assumptions to the adult online learning environment []. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/6.2.3.pdf

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice (1st ed.). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Smith, M. K. (2002). Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-knowl.htm

Zinn, L. M. (1983). Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory [Measurement instrument]. Retrieved from http://moodle.vcc.ca/pluginfile.php/549058/mod_resource/content/0/9_Articulating_your_Personal_Educational_Philosophy/PAEI_Inventory.pdf

Course Journal Category 3

“learning from one’s own experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 117)

Objective: What I have learned from reflecting on this quote and what has caught my attention.

This quote caught my attention right away because, as a nurse, I agree that “learning is rooted in practice/experience . . . and for learning to occur we need to reflect on or in the experience.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 117)

In 1991, Brookfield proposed three phases of critical reflection:

  1. The identification of the “assumptions that underlie our thoughts and actions”
  2. The scrutiny of “the accuracy and validity of these assumptions in terms of how they connect to, or are discrepant with, our experience of reality.”
  3. The reconstituting of these assumptions “to make them more inclusive and integrative.”

(Brookfield, 1991, p.177)

I’ve learned that “Andragogy, self-directed learning, and transformative learning all have life experience as a central component to understanding learning.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 126)

We very commonly check our prior learning and experience to confirm that we have correctly solved problems, but becoming critically aware of our own assumptions involves challenging our established patterns of what to expect. Adulthood is the time for reassessing the assumptions of our formative years that have often resulted in distorted views of reality.

Reflective: What I have realized about teaching as a result of this quote.

Though Brookfield’s collection of student testimonies, I have learned that the best methods for fostering critical thinking with adult learners are as follows:

  1. Critical thinking is best experienced as a social learning process
  2. That it is important for teachers to model the process for students
  3. That critical thinking is best understood when grounded in very specific events or experiences
  4. That’s some of most effective triggers to critical thinking are having to deal with an unexpected event
  5. That learning critical thinking needs to be incrementally sequenced.

(Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 228)

Interpretive: My “Aha!” moment when I read this quote. How this quote changed my mind about being an adult educator. My one key insight I now have as a result of this quote.

My “Aha!” moment was learning what it means to be “critical”. Brookfield states that critical thinking “does not require a college education or advanced understanding of philosophy, nor is it problem solving or creativity.” So, what does it mean to be “critical”?  Brookfield breaks this down into three parts: critical theory, critical thinking, and critical action.

Critical theory is about a philosophical stance that critiques social conditions and challenges ideologies we have come to accept as truth as a means of ending oppression and promoting emancipation. Critical thinking is a thought process of evaluating and critiquing our assumptions. Critical action involves a mindful and timely intervention through informed action and justifying our actions. (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 232-234)

Decisional: How this quote and the insight I have gained from reflecting upon it influences my notion of teaching.

The impact of reflective practice has been significant in my training and development as a nurse; critical thinking skills are of huge importance within this field. People’s lives rely on the critical thinking abilities of nurses every day, if you are not able to think critically you will have a short lived career as a nurse!

As a result of reflecting on this quote, I now see critical thinking in its broader context of critical theory, critical perspectives, and taking critical action.

I see my role as an instructor as one who creates a hospitable safe space for learners to reflect on and make meaning from their experiences. In turn this facilitates critical thinking by fostering critical reflection. To help learners “develop a critical stance toward the world that questions social conditions and truths . . .” This reflection can be fostered through journaling, creating a “community of learning” within the class, teaching around the circle, and encouraging “dialogical conversation” amongst learners. Creating these experiential learning activities that involve learners in engaging with others is a way to “help learners connect critical theory and critical reflection to critical action.”

Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of critical reflection on my own practice. It continues to produce a strong awareness of my strengths and weaknesses while helping me to improve my performance as a nurse and skills as a teacher.

References

Experience Based Learning Systems Website. (2015). http://learningfromexperience.com/

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice (1st ed.). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Course Journal 4

 “The flipped classroom is….essentially reversing traditional order…this approach fits adult education’s values of active learner engagement and self-direction” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 207)

Objective: What I have learned from reflecting on this quote and what has caught my attention.

“Technology is affecting what we learn, how we learn, and how we teach.” It is revolutionising the way we teach. Games and interactive software can help learners attain complicated skills and rigorous knowledge in an engaging and enjoyable way. Adaptive software has the ability to recognize and respond to different abilities, personalizing teaching for every learner. With the expert help of a teacher, students can progress at different rates through lessons that are meant to challenge them just the right amount.

Reflective: What I have realized about teaching as a result of this quote.

There are both advantages and a downside to the flipped classroom. Some of the advantages include that it “promotes leaner inquiry and collaborative learning, provides opportunities for learners to test their skill and interact in hands-on activities, help instructors detect errors in learners’ understanding and application, and gives learners the opportunity to be more self-directed in their learning. It also offers the teacher more opportunity for one-on-one interaction and guiding of the learners.” (Webley, 2012)

Some of the downsides include that “it requires advance preparation by teachers and learning of new technologies such as pod-casting, and some students lament the absence of in-class lectures.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 208)

Interpretive: My “Aha!” moment when I read this quote. How this quote changed my mind about being an adult educator. My one key insight I now have as a result of this quote.

“The context of technology is changing how we communicate, think, and learn. It has also created an overwhelming sense of information overload for adult learners.”

Although technology has the potential to disseminate learning much more widely than ever before, educators now need to direct learners away from “seeking the right answers because now answers are everywhere.” The new “educational goal should be to learn the process, evaluate the source, and question (information cannot be taken at face value).” Educators need to promote self-direction and learners need to be able to tell the difference between what is important and what is not. (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 208)

Decisional: How this quote and the insight I have gained from reflecting upon it influences my notion of teaching.

Technology is no longer a barrier to genuine interaction. It is, instead, an enabler that affords students a humanized, learning experience—especially online. It not only supports cognitive processes, but also socio-emotional processes by involving learners in “getting to know each other, committing to social relationships, developing trust and belonging, and build a sense of on-line community.”

To provide the best possible learning experience, educators have to adapt and find new ways to meet the changing needs of learners. We must understand and embrace the meaning and the implications of these changes in the learning process.

“In spite of the new challenges and changes technology brings, adult educators are still tasked to create safe virtual environments for learning where materials are relevant and appeal to a range of learning styles, just as they would in face-to-face settings.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 208)

References

Johnson, Adams, & Cummins (2012). The 2012 Horizon Report.

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice (1st ed.). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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