Archive for the ‘Learning theory’ Category

Plopped in PLENK 2010

Monday, September 20th, 2010

from Jan Schwartz

I recently wrote about my experience in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Connectivism and Connected Knowledge held during the fall semester of 2008.

Here I am back in a MOOC again in 2010 called PLENK10.  It’s about personal learning environments (PLE) and personal learning networks (PLN).  There are over 1000 people registered and it’s almost as overwhelming as the first MOOC that had over 2000 people registered.  So why did I do it?  Curiosity, desire to learn something new, a distraction from what I should be doing, I admire the people who are facilitating…Yes, to all of the above.

This first of this 10-week journey is about personal definitions and getting clarity on what PLEs and PLNs are all about.  One thing for sure, the definitions and clarities will be different and we’ll have to live with that–so different than the traditional model of education!  But in this instance it somehow works.

My understanding is that PLEs are the tools that one uses in their PLN.  So PLEs might consist of social bookmarking sites, blogs, discussion forums (the course is on Moodle), Skype, and Elluminate, and these are controlled by me, the learner.  I use Evernote  to keep articles, videos and ideas; occasionally delicious to bookmark things, which is somewhat redundant, but more easily shareable than Evernote; Moodle for the discussion since that’s where the discussions are happening in this course; and this blog to reflect on what I’m learning.  I use these to store knowledge and also to gain new knowledge.

I haven’t quite figured out what a PLN is.  It all seems reasonable until I try to write it down.   I know that it has to do with people—the facilitators and other learners, but that seems a bit simplistic.  Let’s see how my definition evolves as I move into the course—right now I don’t see much of a difference between the two because it seems a PLE can have people too.

My favorite quote of the course so far from E. O. Wilson, the biologist (posted by Chris Saeger):

We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.

Pedagogy & Andragogy

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

from Jan Schwartz

Fitz 2I’ve noticed that there are a fair number of teachers, particularly in career education, who are not familiar with the term pedagogy and even fewer with the term andragogy.  As we are now firmly entrenched in the technology or information age, I think understanding the language is critical in order to have critical conversations because the pedagogy/andragogy of face to face education and online education are not always the same.  I sat with some teachers not too long ago who had never heard of these terms despite having taught for years.  This opens the door for many more blogs, but I think defining these two terms is a good start.

Pedagogy comes from the Greek paidos, which means child and ago, which means lead, and so it literally means “to lead the child.”  In modern times the word also refers to the art, science and methods of teaching (anyone of any age).  This is generally a teacher centered philosophy (but not always–Paulo Freire created an important exception).

Andragogy, originally a term coined by Alexander Kapp, was made (somewhat) popular by the late Malcolm Knowles as a term that refers to the “art and science of teaching adults.” Also from the Greek, it means “to lead the man.”  Knowles thought it was important to distinguish between teaching children and teaching adults because adults have different motivations to learn.  Andragogy is generally a student centered philosophy.

Knowles’ five assumptions about adult learners are:

1. Self concept (need involvement in determining their education)
2. Experience  (draw on their experiences to aid their learning)
3. Readiness  (interested in the relevance and immediate application of what they are learning)
4. Orientation (problem centered rather than content centered for the learner)
5. Motivation (responds better to internal rather than external motivators)

Do the above assumptions fit all adult learners?  No, but they help to make more clear the difference in the theories between teaching children and teaching adults. And knowing, in general, what these terms means allows for a coherent conversation to take place.

Image credit: Fitzsimmons in the AZ Daily Star