LLG 2 Reflections on Shared Learning Experiences
Collaborative projects that deepen the experience and understanding of adult learning is an important part of this MODL class. LLG 2 has been working diligently and meeting regularly to share insights, reactions, and ideas. We have taken the lessons learned from our independent readings, class exercises and personal experiences; and brought them back to our group meetings to deepen our learning and gain new perspectives. LLG 2 agrees that these projects have enhanced our abilities in adult learning design and processing.
For this assignment, we reviewed the following online courses, the first was titled “Social Change, Social Norms” and the second was titled “Mind Shift: Change is Possible”. In the Social Change, Social Norms MOOC, we learned about embedded social expectations in relationship to social norms. The proffer illustrated the differences between scripts and schemes that often go unnoticed in day-to-day life. Lastly, it discussed the cognitive structures we subconsciously use to navigate our everyday lives. Mind Shift, which was created by Barbara Oakley and Terry Sejnowski the same creators who created, Learning How to Learn, the world’s largest and most popular MOOC, taught us out to learn not only more effectively, but more broadly. The aim of this MOOC was to help its viewers develop a learning lifestyle. We all had positive reactions to the courses and shared our reactions to specific elements incorporated within the courses that resonated most with us. It was apparent that the common themes around andragogy were elements that caught and retained our attention throughout the course.
Andrea shared that both courses focused on problem centered material than content oriented, which is one of the beliefs of andragogy (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Galit enjoyed the ease of staying engaged. She commented that her experience with Coursera has been that the videos are short and offer interactive options, which make them compelling. It makes sure you the student is paying attention and effectively absorbing all the new information, by asking questions, in a quiz like manner at the end of every video. This was Elizabeth’s first foray into the world of MOOCs and she shared that the design, use of interviews, and graphics made the video classes very interesting.
The members of LLG 2 observed evidence of adult learning theory awareness in each of the MOOC classes. One example of this is the series of short videos that built upon a learning of concept. This can be correlated to McClusky’s Theory of Margins, which is based on the balance of power and load with the adult learner having to juggle responsibilities. A busy working adult (i.e. not a full-time student) will find the series of short videos easier to get to and absorb in their busy day.
The two courses LLG 2 watched and discussed both seemed to be aware of McClusky’s Theory of Margins as they were sensitive to and designed to support that learning has to overlap with a very busy adult learner with diverse commitments and responsibilities. Even the use of short quizzes throughout the sessions helped the learner to quickly process and test how well their learning was progressing.
Both courses were interesting to follow. The Mind Shift MOOC class also focused on the learning process piece of adult learning, which is supported by the Illeris Theory of Adult Learning. Illeris stated that there are three elements of learning (cognition, emotional, and environment) and the process must be inclusive. Cognition and emotion are more internal while environment is more external (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). The Mind Shift course offered opportunities to post learnings, observations, and reactions to the class videos to share and gather feedback from other classmates. This use of a group in the learning process and the concept of society shaping learning was evident.
Overall Effectiveness of Online Learning Designs
Perhaps one of the strongest elements in the online learning design was the use of multi-cultural individuals who were guest interviewees throughout the Social Norms series of videos. Andrea initially shared how engaging and connected this made her feel and Galit and Elizabeth agreed. The introduction of another culture, country, or custom made it very interesting and we all wanted to hear more. Galit made us aware of the constant use of written words running on the bottom of the screen, which helps to keep some types of learner attuned to the learning. Elizabeth enjoyed the lecture of a professor mixed with PowerPoint slides, and interview clips as it was constantly changing. To be sure, the creators of this series of Mind Shift videos were well schooled in successful elements of online learning design.
We wanted to add a touch of creativity to our paper by creating a visual aid to engage our readers even further. Our visual aid seeks to represent the overlapping themes we observed and discussed between our two MOOCS and our current SJU Adult Learning course. Moving clockwise the first intersection we analyzed was between Adult Learning and the Social Change, Social Norms MOOC. In the chapter Adult Learners: Who Participates and Why, we learned about how adult education in the United States is exclusionary, and how society is socialized to believe that only certain types of people will succeed and be welcomed to educational institutions (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). We chose to use a barrier symbol to represent this idea.
Figure 1. Visual aid of adult learning theories and observed MOOCs
The next intersection we analyzed was between Social Change, Social Norms, and Mind Shift. In the Chapter Transformational Learning, we learned about frames of reference. According to Mezirow there are two dimensions to our frames of reference: a habit of mind and a point of view. The habit of mind, is described as a set of assumptions that act as filter for interpreting meaning of experience, while the point of view constructed of meaning schemas (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). To have a Mind Shift we need to build off what we know and how we see the world. We chose to represent the intersection of these two ideas with a lens.
Lastly, we talk about the correlation between Mind Shift and Adult Learning. As discussed previously a connection we found between Mind Shift and Adult Learning is McClusky’s Theory or Margin, and the concept of power and load (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). We chose to represent the idea of juggling responsibilities with a scale, to signify balance.
In summary, LLG 2 thoroughly enjoyed this project as it focused on adult learning theories, design components, and team sharing for better awareness of successful adult learning. The introduction and continued use of MOOCs for the team members was not only useful for learning but a good reminder of the tools a learner has at their fingertips. Lastly, the importance of adapting a learning experience for varied adult learners requires some thought and planning, however, it is ultimately worth it to reach all the participants. The knowledge gained from the courses and our group discussions have been most valuable as it has allowed to develop new ways to incorporate adult learning techniques in our professional lives.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.