When I started out taking The Adult as Learner course, I thought “how hard can it be?” Teaching adults is the same as teaching kids, you just use bigger words, LOL So many things showed me that I had not even scratched the surface of thinking about this. Just learning the difference between pedagogy and andragogy wasn’t enough. No, we pushed on into learning what is essential in andragogy: respect for the adult’s life experiences, creating a space in which they don’t feel judged – a place where they feel safe to discuss their ideas and opinions. Even though they may be the same age as the instructor, the instructor must be able to facilitate without appearing condescending.
Wait! I forgot – before all of this we had to consider when does someone become an adult? Because you may work but not be an adult (same with being a parent). Are you an adult if, at age 24, you live with your parents, you don’t work and you pay for nothing? On the other hand, what if you are 19 years old and living on your own, working, and putting yourself through college? While single parenting? Are you an adult yet? I had taken for granted the mere meaning of the word adult when I signed up for this class.
We moved on to motivations – why are people taking the class? Because whether their motivations are internal (wanting to master a subject or skill), or external (they will get a better job or promotion) changes how they react to things and how they engage. Why do some people get past many barriers to continue education while others seemingly can’t get past one? It’s not a character flaw, just personal experience. How does someone see themself as a student? Did they finish high school thinking that they were lucky to graduate and were they told that they were not smart? How will that person embrace taking a class to get ahead at work? Will they look forward to it or just try to get through it? Will they expect, or demand, much of themselves?
Where are you in life? Have you had children? Don’t want kids? Are you married or part of a couple? Are you single? Have you survived a trauma? Are you starting out in the working world or are you an upper-level manager trying to push through to the top tier at work? All of these things define you as a student.
As I think about beginning to create a course, the thought of designing a course for adults with just these thoughts to contend with- it is intimidating. But wait, there’s more! When were you born? Because your generation defines your attitude towards technology, education, and the workforce.
Then there are the learning theories. Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Social Cognitivism, Connectivism, Communities of Practice, etc. You learn which parts of the brain are utilized and how each is affecting memory, processing new information, how is it being stored, and so on. So much to think of. When you design your class will it be asynchronous or synchronous? Will your students be tech savvy? How will you reach them? There are cones, and zones, and Pavlov and Piaget. So much to consider, at times from opposing viewpoints. How do you make sense of it all?
I told my classmate, Lou, that I think everything is a learning theory now-that if I look at my watch and see the time, that there is some theory out there to say that I’ve just learned because my mind has now placed me in the moment of 10:15 in the world, something I didn’t know minutes before. I think that this course was great – it introduced us to so much. While it does seem overwhelming, as I continue on my journey of learning in Instructional Design, that these theories will come up again and again and make more sense the more I read, the more I learn – I’m happy to have such a broad base to build upon. Our class was synchronous and in the asynchronous world of ID, I found synchronous to be helpful. I enjoyed hearing and reading comments from my classmates and professor, insights from sources that weren’t always in my reading. It was a pleasure to get to know my classmates, to work on a group project (even though my group’s big lesson was what happens when the technology fails you, but we persevered). Another bonus of the synchronous classes was learning to use Blackboard and it’s breakout rooms. It made it much easier for us to use when doing our group presentation. I will miss this class but hopefully I’ll find Professor Manning and my classmates elsewhere on the ID journey.