Ok, this post has nothing to do with Justin Bieber. I found a suggestion of Portent’s content idea generator that seemed malleable. I’m refashioning the title for this last post for Digital Tech in Adult Ed course with Dr. Rob Power and classmates at UOIT. Instead of Justin Bieber, you get me. Welcome to True Facts About Tim Bahula’s Love of Digital Tech in Adult Ed.
True Fact #1: This is the last post
Yes, this is likely it. There were other topics and tools referenced in the course that could have warranted blog posts. Topics and tools like designing for skills, motivation, habits, like authentic assessment, like technology-enhanced feedback, like gamification and game-based learning, like Kahoot, and like Screencastify. So there may be more blog posts, but don’t count on it. I already have 36 draft blog posts, a couple dating back to 2006 and the days when I thought I might be a blogger. (I just posted one of them, an infographic that has been in the queue since 2011!)
True Fact #2: I like “written”
I like well-written blog posts, but I do not enjoy the process of writing them. I often battle with the words. Posts that I write often take several hours to write. Finding that kind of time (on top of course reading, class time, and other assignments, not to mention the rest of my life) has been a real struggle. I understand better why my blogging career hasn’t taken off.
True Fact #3: I like acknowledgment
Notwithstanding my earlier posts about badges, I felt honoured to be voted for by my classmates to receive the “Best Blog” badge for this course. (I’ll even proudly display it here!) Even still, the possibility of a badge did not motivate me to write well. The research of Dan Pink (2011) on motivation sheds some light on this. Extrinsic rewards (like money, badges, and grades) matter for motivation, but the more powerful motivators for cognitive work are intrinsic. Pink lists them as mastery, purpose, and autonomy. All of them have been at work on this blogging adventure. The “Best Blog” badge confirms some measure of mastery and purpose in my posts. I like that acknowledgment. (Although, I really don’t know how many might have voted for my blog. It could have been less than 5 for all I know.)
True Fact #4: I learn in a noisy world
Democratized communication and constructivist education make the world a noisy place to learn. The need for 32 students to write eight substantive blog posts and to take part in weekly discussion forums means that we have all written/spoken a lot of words (~1400 for this post alone!). Most of the posts by my classmates have been published on the internet available for anyone to read. Is anyone reading/listening??
I’d be interested in seeing blog stats for others from this course. My stats are exciting and disappointing. The most read post in this series has been “37 Reasons the Amish Were Right about Strong Communities.” WordPress.com stats tell me that there were 48 views. That seems acceptable considering there were only 32 students in the course and I haven’t done anything to build a following for my blog. However, when I add up all the views for all the posts in this series, the number falls short of the number of views in the same period for a re-posting of a Trinidadian news article from 2007. The post “The mystic and the poisoned puja” received 222 views in 90 days on my site, and I didn’t even write it. Getting your voice heard in a noisy world is challenging.
True Fact #5: Communicating enables connection
Writing the blog posts for this course has been a laborious process. Yet, some of the rewards of this form of learning have been the connections that this form of communication has enabled. My learning has been enriched by the private messages of my classmates and friends. Beyond my immediate circle of influence, I connected with another theological educator using Twitter in his practice. In my post, I referred to his post I found in a Google search. That reference triggered a trackback notification to the author. His comment on my post helped me better understand how Twitter is being used in theological education. Connectivism has yielded dividends.
True Fact #6: Tools enable connection
A not-so-obvious technological tool, trackback notifications, enabled a connection to another theological educator. Another not-so-obvious technological tool, Rich Site Summary (RSS), enabled me to keep abreast of my classmates’ blog posts. The technology is too complicated to try to explain in a reflective post. However, to use an outdated comparison, RSS feeds allow delivery of a customized newspaper to your door. With RSS, I didn’t have to wander around the internet checking each of my classmates’ blogs for new posts. Rather, I opened my RSS feed reader, and any new posts were there. Subscription to RSS feeds is a very efficient means of content aggregation and connecting to the ideas of others in a noisy world.
True Fact #7: Boring teaching is one or the other
Either it is boring, or it is teaching. It can’t be both. Boring teaching will not result in learning. Engaging both the visceral and cognitive parts of the brain is necessary for learning to occur (Dirksen, 2015). Boring will not work. The best of game-based learning and gamification can foster that engagement but isn’t a guarantee. Some of the game elements used in this course had little or no effect. (Although, the gamification game got my competitive spirit fired up. However, I think I learned more about gaming the system than I did about gamification.) What had a significant effect was the game-based learning approach of the Diffusion Simulation Game. It was helpful in helping to learn the principles of the diffusion of innovation studied in this course and a previous course. If found it engaging enough to play five times, and I may go back for more
True Fact #8: I am not my learner, and I am not my teacher or my classmates
The aphorism, “You are not your learner,” will continue to ring in my ears. Dirksen (2015) thinks it would make a good bumper sticker. I think it might go better on the window the vehicle, sort of like the “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” sticker. As an instructional designer and course developer, I need to be reminded of this when I look at a learner.
As I wrap up this reflection on Digital Tech in Adult Ed, I also need to remember the inverse, that I am not my teacher or my classmates. Unlike some of my classmates who had a positive experience reading Dirksen (2015), I struggled with that reading, not because it was difficult, but because it was underwhelming in its simplicity. That can be a good thing in some circumstances, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in an adult education course. I explored a lot of digital tools (some of them very interesting and helpful), but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more discussion and reading on the theory of tech and adult ed, like maybe some Jacques Ellul or Marshall McLuhan, or maybe some Malcolm Knowles, Paulo Freire, or Jane Vella. However, as an adult learner myself, I am a decision maker, the sixth principle of effective adult learning according to Vella (2008). As a result, I decided I needed more adult learning theory and spent a fair bit of time (re-)reading Vella (1995, 2001, 2008, 2014; Vella, Berardinelli, & Burrow, 2000) in the days leading up to the deadline for Assignment 4. I was not disappointed.
I don’t know if anyone will still be reading at this point, but I expect that our prof, Dr. Rob Power, is at least skimming. Rob, thanks for a good course. I’ve learned a lot and discovered a lot more to learn. Thanks also to my classmates. I hope the learning experience was as rewarding for you as it was for me.
Dirksen, J. (2015). Design for How People Learn (2nd ed.). Pearson Education.
Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Penguin Publishing Group.
Vella, J. (1995). Training Through Dialogue: Promoting Effective Learning and Change with Adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Vella, J. (2001). Taking Learning to Task: Creative Strategies for Teaching Adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Vella, J. (2008). Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults (Revised). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Vella, J. (2014). On Teaching and Learning: Putting the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education into Action. Wiley.
Vella, J., Berardinelli, P., & Burrow, J. (2000). How Do They Know They Know?: Evaluating Adult Learning. Wiley.