Adult 640 #14: Supporting online learners-one size does NOT fit all

Good bulleting boards are like good bumper stickers. One such board was displayed in a Geometry classroom.  “When you hit a wall you have (3) choices:  stare at the wall, go around it or find a way to climb over it.” This one resonates with me.

Did you notice that I’ve been AWOL in this course?  If so, this is where I have been.  Stare at the Wall


When considering the learner for this course, I hit a wall.  Who were these individuals?  I had ideas about what made them unique, but nothing substantial to support my ideas.  There’s nothing worse than creating a program for an imaginary group of individual only to discover that it is irrelevant or redundant.  A new role surfaced for me two weeks ago thus allowing me the ability to become one of the individuals for whom I am creating this module. Destiny, fate or serendipity?  Participation in a conference this summer along with training for new instructors provides a stronger platform from which to address the questions for this week’s readings.

Learners:  The learners targeted for this module are instructors in the Commonwealth’s CCR program, College and Career Readiness (GED) instruction.  I’m not sure if ‘unique’ is the most accurate way in which to describe them. A significant amount of people watching, listening and then participation provides the basis for my ideas about the learners.

  • Well educated
  • Retired
  • Varied professional experiences
  • Digital literacy skills are sketchy at best
  • Literacy and learning are integral to their value system
  • Possess the desire to use professional skills to support others in their learning
  • Not necessarily knowledgeable about adult learning principals and teaching practice

A community of Practicethe creation of a community where learning and support are available is of great importance to these individuals.  The organization encourages faculty to participate in a COP which relates to their practice: ESL, ELA (English Language Arts) and Mathematics.  Participation is encouraged, but not required. One full-day of organizational learning is mandatory as a component of professional development.  It’s natural for teachers to want to share what they know. The dissemination of knowledge is a vital component of learning and teaching. In the introduction to Common Knowledge, Nancy M. Dixon suggests the following:

  • “knowing” is deeply personal.  To ask one to share is to ask them to give of themselves. (p. 8)
  • “If we want people in our organizations to share what they have learned, we would be wise to create the conditions in which sharing results as is of personal benefit.” (p. 9).
  • “If I share my knowledge, that is, give it away, then we can both hold it in common-common knowledge that is known throughout the organization.” (p.9).

Creating a community for the learners in this module is essential to both the development of faculty as learners as well as to the overall mission of the organization. Components of the organization provide learning for adults in rather remote areas of the Commonwealth.  It is simply not feasible for faculty to access face-to-face training and learning as a result of physical distance and allocation of funding.

Addressing the needs of learners: The self-assessment tool created by Athabasca University , “Am I ready” is powerful.  When applying for both undergraduate and graduate study, the potential student divulges copious amounts of information about themselves in anticipation of an offer of acceptance.  Until I took this assessment (yes, all of it), I was never asked questions to make me consider my readiness for the learning expected of me prior to application.  Understanding the types of skills necessary for a particular area of study is an important predictor of how well an individual might do in a given course.  Notwithstanding what life throws at an adult learner, recognizing the strengths and weakness of a digital learning module is important. When training originates with program managers, subsequent learning for faculty should be a natural progression. Additional staff placements fulfilled after whole group training is supported through mentoring as well as through the buy-in of program managers.

Community in our course:  Community is so important for me.  I am a social being who thrives on the development of relationships and through conversation.  The lack of community at the beginning of this course was difficult for me.  In order for me to develop as fully as possible, I need to know that someone is there, will read what I have written and respond to me.  When reading and responding to blogs, I am conversational in my writing, ask questions and consider ways in which to share what I know.  The concept of blog buddies, along with Google Hang-outs encourages me to dig deep into my learning and support the learning goals of others.

Translation to the module:  understanding that many instructors engage the tools that are of greatest comfort to them does not place the learner in the center of the process.  I will need to make adjustments to my module by creating an “Am I ready?” assessment as well as the opportunity for choice.  Learners who need less support or community engagement should make a choice in their learning that supports them.  For example, in a learner component would have two choices for community building:  One learner might engage in sharing through a Google Hangout.  Another might view the hangout posted to the LMS and respond in writing.

Something to Chew on…


In the “Am I ready” assessment on the Athabasca site, the ability to follow a trail for both a NO or a YES response is useful for the learners.  It’s been approximately six (6) years since the site has been updated.  I wonder which research has surfaced in the field of adult learning that could be included in this site?  Were there any particular questions that surprised you?  The one about disability was interesting to me when considering ADA, confidentiality and the ways in which the learner need support to be successful.



Dixon, N. M. (2000). Common knowledge: How companies thrive by sharing what they know. Harvard Business School Press.

Hughes, J. A. (2004). Supporting the online learner. Theory and practice of online learning, 367.


Adult 640 #13: Self Regulated Learning

Flashback time-I know that I am dating myself, but who among us can’t relate to at least the discussion between Joey and Ross? If it hasn’t been over dating problems than fill in the blank ____________________.

After twenty years of teaching, I’ve had numerous experiences in which I have considered the questions, “What went wrong?” “What did I think was going to happen when______?” “What could I have done differently to change the outcome?” “Why didn’t I plan differently?”

Zimmerman’s Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner is one of relevance to me as both a learner and a “future” instructional designer. It was a topic of consideration when working in a K-12 setting where goal setting and the regulation of one’s behavior are a challenge for many learners.  In a hyper-standardized assessment driven society, where does one find time to help learners to “transform their mental abilities into academic skills (Zimmerman p. 65)? Learners who understand the relationship between goals, behaviors, and self-assessment recognize the correlation between one’s ability to set and achieve goals.

After this week’s reading, I think that I may be remiss in not creating an introductory segment which addresses the concept of goal setting, values, and expectations for learning.  Taking time to ask learners what they wish to achieve supports engagement and the ability to follow through with an event.  When asking students to consider the way they think and control success and failure, the instructor must think critically of one’s own goals and motivations. The salient act of modeling and identifying goals, behaviors, and metacognition makes learning tangible to all.

I’ll preface the following statement by saying that I am careful to avoid microaggressive statements in my writing. Those who pursue a high school equivalency diploma setting may find the ability to do so without self-regulating skills challenging. A high-quality self-regulated process needs to be taught, as suggested by Zimmerman.  With this knowledge, an additional module of learning in this professional development track might be useful for CCR adult educators.   A module regarding Self-Regulated learning could enhance learning for all.

For the professionals to follow through with sequential modules, they must be satisfied with their learning.  An optimistic future envisions participation in all of the modules with the goal to enhance the teaching capabilities of instructors in the CCR program.

Something to chew on..

The (8) component skills described by Zimmerman are ones that I will consider when creating threads for conversation in the learning modules. How will you use them?


Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory into practice41(2), 64-70.

Adult 640 #11: Online Learning Activities

Online Learning Activities for Career and College Readiness Adult Education 

Online Learning Activities
Online Learning Activities-how do make all of the puzzle pieces fit correctly?

Professional development for adult educators in the CCR program through an online learning module may be a new concept for participants.  In a discussion with specialists, it is understood that adult educators come from a variety of backgrounds, with most retired from the K-12 sector.  With this fact in mind, the modules will use a limited number of activities to provide for greater success for all. Conversation, Icebreakers, Google Docs, Role-Playing, Social Bookmarking and YouTube are the activities that are being considered for this series of modules.


Conversation: interactive communication between the instructor and participants will occur through a Google+ page established for each module.  Instructor support: The creation of a screen cast, describing how to engage with the discussion page, guidelines for the quality and frequency of posts as well as a conclusion date provide organizational structure allows the participant to review the material at an individual pace.

for example: the instructor culls through previous comments or dialogue in a conversation setting such as Google+ or from Sound Cloud and isolates a statement from an outside source and asks for participants to complete the thought, provide clarification or to consider the flip side of an argument or supposition. 

Icebreakers-Developing a sense of community is necessary for an organization of individuals who may have relatively little or no previous interaction. A prior knowledge assessment, in the form of an Anticipatory Set of Questions, engages learners in the first module with thinking about adult learning. Icebreakers can be quite successful in establishing a friendly rapport with members of a learning group. Participation in this series of learning modules allows individuals to support the overarching goals of the organization.  Success in this module is inclusive of all as opposed to competitive in nature. Cohesion as a group supports all. Icebreakers should support the learning.  When one isn’t readily available or applicable, then it becomes counterproductive.

for example:  posting a comic, a short video clip or a current event that relates to the learning in the module should engage the participants in thinking and problem-solving.  Hooking the learner allows one to refocus attention from outside stimulus. 

Google Doc: K-12 educators are familiar with Google Classroom. To engage those who are not, a screen cast is a suitable way in which to provide more individual instruction regarding how to use the site for the purpose of learning in the module.

for example:  the Lifespan Issues module engages CCR educators with ways in which to differentiate for the adult learners with an IEP/504 as a student. 508 compliance ensures adaptive and quality services for adult learners.  Collaborative writing and the planning of lessons allow participants to use the materials learned in the module to create lessons for classroom use. The instructor is able to access learning through lesson creation and commenting on the part of the student. 

Problem Solving: engaging the learners in real-world situations experienced by the students in the CCR setting allows multiple voices to share in the learning.  Presenting a situation in short video format with a directive to discuss in the conversation setting or in a larger setting, if the module is used for professional group development, allows CCR educators to engage in authentic experiences.

for example: as a facilitator, the instructor can interact in a synchronous manner through video conferencing.  Recording a learning event allows for multiple learning experiences.  As an instructor, I am able to review the material and use reflections for the conversation board.  It also allows me to model skills presented in future modules, such as feedback. 

Role Playing:  a component of the instructional modules engages learners with Cultural Literacy.  The students within the CCR community comprise a wide range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.  Culturally responsive teaching allows individuals to understand the role of culture in diversity. The ability to exhibit competencies in working with others is a component of the CCR standards.

for example: watching cultural diverse roles digitally allows participants to hear the voices of those in their program. Conversation occurs through the Google+ page. 

Social Bookmarking: I have used Diigo as a graduate student and find it a useful way to share materials with others.  The sharing of resources helps to build community and trust among members.

for example:  creating a common, free site to share materials allows students to bond socially through collaboration and contribution. 

YouTube:  while YouTube was not technically identified in the site provided, creating a free and easily accessible channel for teaching learning is certainly useful.

for example:  the time frame allotted for these modules, 5-10 hours, may limit the number of digital resources suitable for a single module.  Generating a channel allows learners to activate the sources for further learning. 

Something to chew on…

Making a screencast takes a long time in the beginning.  I think that creating a video and publishing it on my YouTube channel would be a way in which I could grow as an instructor.  I think that providing students with a way in which to build skills is a way to provide scaffolding. We certainly use YouTube in my family to learn how to do all kinds of things.



Adult 640 #10: Instructor Role

course designer

TPACK Modules:  College & Career Readiness Educator Professional Development

The modules that I am creating for the CCR (AKA GED) adult educator are a forward-thinking move on the part of specialists as well as me, the developer.  Transitioning educators, many of whom are retired from the K-12 workplace, from a traditional face-to-face experience to that of an online medium is both exciting and daunting. It is my understanding that the digital skills of the CCR adult educators varying in skill level, interest and comfort.

I have given considerable thought to my role in these learning modules. My strengths lie in pedagogical and social roles as opposed to that of managerial and technical.   As indicated by my Gallop Strengths Finder survey results, my role as an online instructor is best utilized through the pedagogical and social dimensions.  I neither enjoy nor gravitate to technical components of course instruction.  My strength and passion is in developing educators as opposed to managing them.

A system’s based approach to learning and change is, I believe, the optimal setting for planning online learning events for adults. In hospital settings, medical teams place the patient in the center of a discussion.  Welcoming all who interact with the patient, the doctor, pharmacist, therapists, social workers and family sit at the table and share in the medical decision planning.

If the above model works in a medical setting, why not use it in an online instructional setting? Educators with strengths in each of Berge’s four dimensions sit at the table.  After years of working in isolation as a public educator, I think that it’s vitally important for each individual to share in the creation, dissemination, and management of learning.  Understanding how each component supports the adult learner helps to provide a positive learning experience. When placing the adult learning in the center of the learning, those who sit at the table support the learning.

We are told repeatedly in adult learning that feedback is a gift.  Unfortunately, it’s often challenging to give as well as to receive if individuals lack skill in doing so.  One of the modules in this set of learning events engages CCR adult educators in exploring and developing feedback to engage learning. It’s an area of challenge for me.  Doing so in a digital setting omits the personal component of learning that is crucial to the development of a learner.

Conversely, becoming the professional inspirer in a digital setting would engage me as the instructor in creative, real-time thinking applicable to the work of the CCR educator.  The concept of a “Community of Practice” is a familiar phrase.  What is often unfamiliar is how to create and participate in one.   The learners in these modules may welcome a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences as opposed to an entirely asynchronous module. It is my hope that these modules will inspire those who engage in creating communities of practice behaviors through the learning events.

My role as the Interaction-Facilitator will be crucial to the success of this series of modules. The democratic environment described in the case study read for this week’s learning described an instructor who felt comfortable in an online discussion forum.  The Google+ environment is an area where I have comfort in scaffolding discussions from previous coursework.  It’s a medium that is free and easily accessible.  It is also closed to those outside of the learning community, which may help individuals who are hesitant to participate feel more comfortable in doing so.  Modeling social presence is a skill developed through numerous experiences, both in graduate and MOOC learning environments.

The organization for which these learning modules are created is composed of specialists who possess skill and expertise in the managerial and technical areas.  I am well versed in organization and planning of learning events for children and am developing my skills in as an adult educator.  The feedback that my peers in this course provide by asking questions are the eyes that are necessary for me to move outside of my head.  The ability to scaffold learning for adults in previous coursework considers the principles of andragogy as opposed to that of instruction for children.

Understanding how a student perceives a course is often quite enlightening! Quite frankly, surveying learners at the conclusion of a course seem counterproductive to me. By asking the questions in the dimension of instructor roles: Pedagogical, Social, Managerial, and Technical at a time other than just the conclusion of the course would allow me to provide greater service to the learner.  Understanding the degree of social presence needed in order to facilitate a successful learning is important to me as an instructor. The summary of the descriptions and issues of online instructor roles is useful when considering how I fit in this new methodology and where I need support.  Understanding how a student in this module might perceive my role as an instructor, as presented by in the case study,  is an essential tool for instructional planning.

Lab chewing a bone
Something to chew on…

Feedback allows for a better learning experience for future engagement with a module. Which strategies or methodology when communicating with learners?


Liu, X., Bonk, C. J., Magjuka, R. J., Lee, S. H., & Su, B. (2005). Exploring four dimensions of    online instructor roles: A program level case study. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks9(4), 29-48.


Adult 640 #9: tpack2 Module #1 (revisions)

TPACK Lesson #1:  Andragogy 

Note:  revisions in bold/larger font

Lesson Description:

  • The main Content (C) of this lesson is andragogy and the 5 assumptions of the adult. learner.
  • The main Pedagogy (P) of this lesson is the understanding and application of the principles for lesson planning, implementation, and assessment of adult learners in a College and Career Readiness (CCR) program (formerly known as GED).
  • The main Technology (T) of this lesson is Twitter, YouTube, Sound Cloud (podcast) and Google+.Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)


Instructor Role: Pedagogical, Managerial, Social & Technical

Pedagogical: course designer, profession-inspirer (dialogue activity)

Social: Social rapport builder (build online learning community-Google+ page)

Managerial:  organizer and planner

Technical:  media Designer (Screencast), technical coordinator for reference, when requested

Activity:  Video introduction to the course goals and directions for use of tools, created by the instructor. Transcription is provided by the instructor. 

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)

Activity:  Anticipatory Set of Questions

Method: Google Doc (Quiz format/pre-assessment)

Assessment:  Response choices calculated through Google Docs

An Anticipatory Set of Questions (ASQ)  is used to assess the learner’s beliefs/assumptions about the learning needs/styles of adult learners. Two modalities of learning, visual and auditory represent the content material. The presentation of Knowles assumptions of adult learners, along with the principles of andragogy clarifies misconceptions (visual). Consideration of possible bias is addressed through a podcast of the learning styles of adults vs children (auditory/participant response). An asynchronous discussion board links curriculum and post-assessment through a series of clarifying questions. This pedagogy is applicable to the content as it activates prior knowledge, presents seminal work in the field of adult learning, identifies implications for adult learning in a classroom setting, engages listeners by welcoming comments to Sound Cloud and through a discussion board.

Support:  Attitudes vs. Actions Richard T. LaPiere (research) (Ideas within can apply to lesson planning.)  Writing a Lesson Plan: Anticipatory Sets  (informal)


Digital Support for Instruction: Google+ creation, and Google Forms, Screen Cast (I have used Jing in the past.) Sound Cloud, YouTube Channel

How to make a ScreenCast

How to Use Sound Cloud 

How to use Google+

How to use Google Forms

How to create a YouTube Channel

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)

Activity:  Sound Cloud, YouTube, and Google+page

Resources for learning:  Screencast to guide learners to use Sound Cloud for listening and posting comments. Screencast to guide learners on how to use Google+ page for Conversation. Screencast and transcript created by the instructor. 

Assessment:  Conversation on Google+ Students will provide feedback of listening experience by responding to questions posted in Google+ page. 

Describe:  The technology selected for this lesson, Sound Cloud, YouTube, and Google+ is suitable for adult learners.  YouTube is a natural tool for learning for many adults.  Students who watch videos can make stronger connections between content and outcome through visual models.  Sound Cloud engages current educators to share opposing voices when describing the difference between the instruction of adult and child learners when considering Knowles Assumptions. Podcasts are accessed easily through mobile devices. Students engage in the conversation when posting written comments.  Google+ is a ubiquitous platform.  The student learner is able to share learning, reflection and engage in discussion with other learners in an asynchronous environment.  Google+ communities can be closed groups of individuals in similar training and learning situations thus allowing the discussion to continue after the formal program concludes.

Support:  Why and How Should Teachers Use Podcasts for LearningGoogle Cloud Platform for Higher EducationVideo Strategies (NTTI)

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)

Describe:  The particular technology selected for this lesson has the potential to change the teaching practices of CCR educators and learners.  Educators should continually improve their practice.  Learning from and communicating with others through technology stimulates interest and reflection. When participating in a learning culture, digital curiosity motivates adult learners to share best practices, to examine dispositions and/or biases as well as to empower learners through equitable access.

Support:  International Society for Technology Education Standards

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)

Describe:  The knowledge gained from the sources described in this lesson are easily accessed, copyright free and equitable for all learners.  Ethical practices when using digital tools is modeled for adult learners. The benefit of using multiple mediums allow for equity in learning styles, experiences, and orientation to learn. This lesson models for CCR colleagues digital tools and resources that may be new or unfamiliar for use in GED instruction. The ideal fit for this lesson is one that employs reading, listening, viewing, short response and active discussion.  Self-direction is necessary to engage independence in time and setting of learning. This event involves adult learners in the active as opposed to passive learning, such as through a lecture. Learners shared previous experiences through the anticipatory set of questions, they are given time to reflect on the relevance of what is discussed in the podcast. An asynchronous discussion encourages adults to determine how the learning will impact their practice. This lesson is problem-centered.  It asks the learner to distinguish between assumptions and reality, to process what makes adult learning unique and asks them to consider how this new knowledge will inform their practice. The best practices for adult learning model Knowles 5 Assumptions of Adult Learning and the Principles of Andragogy.

Support:  ISTE Standards Framework:   Knowles: 5 Assumptions of Adult Learners, 4 Principles of Andragogy

Concluding Activities: Learners take the Anticipatory Set of Questions posed at the beginning of the module. (Google form) The instructor will post the results of the True/False statements from both sets of responses on the Google+ page.  Engage participants in a discussion about the similarities and differences between the two forms. Lead students to consider how knowledge will impact their practice. 



Adult 640 #8: Learning Module(s): Avoiding the Kudzu…

Pretty creepy, yes?  I’m trying to keep it all balanced and with a clear end in sight.

We have all heard the saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees.  After much thought and consideration, what I initially proposed for my project is a task that I will complete outside of this course. While what I learn from it will certainly influence how I approach my project, the route that I propose provides a medium through which to engage adult learners in the learning objectives of this course.


The modules that I will create for individuals who provide education to adult learners will include Andragogy, Cultural Literacy, Lifespan Issues, Creating a Flipped Classroom and Feedforward.  Two components will comprise each model, one for training and resource for the adult educator as personal development. The second section for integration of learning into teaching and resources for the adult student as professional development.  The division of each component into learning, teaching, and resources should allow participants to complete sections To comply with the outcome objectives for this project, each section is approximately 30 minutes in length, with each module 90 minutes in length.  Sections can be completed and considered as a stand-alone and able to be engaged prior to use of those which follow.

The objectives identified are drawn from the Workforce Integration Opportunity Act (2014) (WIOA)  In a nutshell…

The term “workforce preparation activities” means activities, programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic skills, critical thinking skills, digital literacy skills, and self-management skills, including competencies in utilizing resources, using information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary for the successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment.


Adult Educator:  TSW-

  • develop awareness of and the academic understanding of andragogy,
  • use critical thinking skills for planning and education purposes

Adult Student: TSW-

  • describe self as an adult learner
  • develop self-management skills
  • utilize resources for learning
  • apply skills for transition to post-secondary, training and future employment.

Activities: YouTube Videos, Podcasts, Readings & Asynchronous discussion

Assessment:  Learning Needs Resource Assessment (pre), Quiz,

Framework:   Knowles: 5 Assumptions of Adult Learners, 4 Principles of Andragogy

Cultural Literacy

Adult Educator:  TSW-

  • define culturally responsive teaching
  • explore own possible cultural biases
  • identify dimensions of equity

Adult Student:  TSW-

  • exhibit competencies in working with others
  • develop skills necessary for successful interaction with culturally diverse groups as one transition into post-secondary, training and employment

Activities:  YouTube Videos, Podcasts, Twitter Lists, Digital Role Playing, Blog Reading

Assessment: Pre and Post Assessment correlates with the objectives stated above.


Ready for Rigor: a framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching Dimensions of Equity

Lifespan Issues

Adult Educator: TSW-

  • build an understanding of learning styles, behavioral and educational needs of diverse learners
  • engage assisted technology for instructional use
  • exhibit practice with career readiness and workplace skills

Adult Student:  TSW-

  • learn self-management skills,
  • show understanding of diverse learners in the work setting
  • use assisted technology for learning
  • plan for transition from post-secondary education to training to the workforce

Activities:  Microsoft Windows 10 Assisted Technologies, Closed Captioning, subtitling, Creation of YouTube Accounts, Let Me Learn

Assessments: Let Me Learn Inventory, LRNA (Learning Resource Needs Assessment-Pre/Post), Asynchronous Board Discussion

Framework:  Workforce for adults with disabilities

Flipped Classroom

Adult Educator- TSW:

  • Define a “flipped” classroom
  • Explore examples of classrooms
  • Participate in a mock classroom setting
  • Acquire skills to create and manage a classroom

Adult Student-TSW:

  • Show competencies in utilizing resources
  • Develop a working relationship with peers
  • Use digital skills to acquire information

Activities: Create a screencast, explore professional learning community, read blog posts to create Community of Practice, develop YouTube channel, readings of the theoretical basis

Assessment: Learning Needs Resource Assessment (LNRA-pre/post), participation in Flipped Learning Activity, Analysis of Flipped Learning Lesson, think-pair-share, pre-recorded lecture

Framework:  Boom’s Taxonomy-(remembering, understanding-at home/applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating-in class).


Note:  This is a new concept and one that I am currently exploring.  I will certainly flush it out with time. Feedforward, as opposed to feedback, which comes after work, is submitted for evaluation.) 

Adult Educator:  TSW-

  • learn feedforward as a mechanism to impact future student growth
  • develop skills to coach adult students
  • coach adult students in-goal setting and self-evaluation strategies

Adult Student:  TSW-

  • engage in activities to develop critical thinking skills, measurable outcomes
  • develop self-management
  • use knowledge gained through coaching to inform transition from post-secondary, training, and employment

Activities:  PODcasts, Blog reading, engaging Twitter accounts, join Adult Education Community of Practice through a Tweetdeck

Framework:  The Community of Inquiry model is suitable for this module of learning. 

Something to Chew on…

What I’ve outlined about could become mini-courses. While it seems overwhelming, adult educators should be able to access the components that are of value to them at the moment.  It’s not quite a “grab and go” method of learning, yet chunking it will make it manageable.


Brame, C., (2013). Flipping the classroom. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved [June 14, 2018] from

College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education. (2017, May 10). Retrieved June 14, 2018, from




Adult 640 #7: Connectivism-I am a node

Connectivism puzzle
Connections are like the nodes of a puzzle.

A discussion of learning theories is an essential component of the Adult 601 course.  Students cluster into small groups when asked to explore and present each theory. Presentations culminate in a rather loud discourse as to the merits and value of each theory.  It’s common for several students to swell as peacocks when asserting, “I am a constructivist.”  This display of pomposity deflates when learners recognize that something may extend beyond the traditional set of five (5) learning theories. Enter the theory of “Connectivism.”

The comprehensive guide, Learning in Adulthood (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner) showcases the Five Orientations to Learning as Behaviorist, Humanist, Cognitivist, Social Cognitive, and Constructivist. Connectivism is similar to each of the five (5) theories in that it has (p.p.295-296) learning theorists, a view of learning, a locus and a purpose for learning. The role of the instructor, as well as the way in which learning manifests for adults, is also similar to that of the other five (5) orientations.

  • Learning theorists:  George Siemens, Stephen Downes (primary)
  • View of the learning process:  informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning and occurs in a variety of ways (i.e. personal networks), is a continual process, lasts for a lifetime.
  • The Locus of Learning: the concept of a “node” where learning can be fields, ideas or communities, learners face a challenge to recognize patterns that might be hidden, learning can reside outside of humans
  • The Purpose of Learning: learning is required in a knowledge economy
  • The Instructor’s Role: the instructor can be technology, which rewires the human brain, human instructors, to help the learner recognize and adjust to pattern shifts
  • The Manifestation in adult learning: capacity to form connections create patterns, chaos can be a new reality of individuals as knowledge workers,

However, Connectivism is not considered an actual learning theory by all in the field of adult learning. Testing, evaluating networks, the application of chaos and self-organizing theories, according to Siemens, occur in a rapidly changing environment. The ability to make a decision about the way in which learning proceeds is a principle of connectivism.

There are several distinct elements of this course, Adult 640, which I perceive as components of connectivism:

  • I know that the members of this class have diverse opinions.  They may need time and a feeling of safety in order to surface more fully. Others may not share these opinions as a result of personality, cultural or situational learning.
  • We’re all considered nodes of information, individuals who are able to share their knowledge with others in the class as well as to provide connections that may support the program module of learning each is developing.
  • The non-human appliances that we use such as the class blog, our own blogs, and Twitter accounts are a source of learning.
  • I can assume that as a group we have the capacity to learn moreDavid Weinberger, a Senior Researcher at the Berkman Center for the Internet & Society suggests that “As knowledge becomes networked, the smartest person in the room isn’t the person standing at the front lecturing us…” “The smartest person in the room is the room itself: the network that joins the people and ideas in the room and connects to those outside of us (p. xiii).”       
  • The class site joins all of us together to share the ideas that we have gathered through our use of the net and though our weak links.  We are not lectured by someone standing in front of us.
  • The nurturing and maintenance of these connections occurs when those in the class read, react and respond to blogs and tweets.
  • Information flows from the class blog to those in the community.
  • As learners, each person in the class has selected a project that engaged decision-making. What we “think” at the beginning of this study of e-Learning may shift dramatically as a result of learning.

In terms of the project that I have selected, I am a little apprehensive about how the concept of connectivism will unfold.  I have a tendency to become very excited about new technologies and ideas that surface as a result of my learning.  I have been described as someone who gives you “a run for your money.”  This uber-enthusiasm has caused difficulty in the past.  With this knowledge of myself, I will exercise caution when creating the module.  What I would provide is detailed examples of how specialists can supplement the learning in the module when interacting face-to-face with the learners for this module.  A primary obstacle may lie in the descriptor provided to me of the “typical” educator who will complete the module.

The module that I will create will certainly be a non-human appliance that will store knowledge for the adult learners in this program. It is possible that the learner’s capacity to gain greater knowledge may be enhanced through hyperlinks or provisions for additional learning and resources.  Links for discussion boards may be opportunities for educators to share success stories thus becoming both nodes of information as well as weak links to support others in their own decision-making.

The obstacles that may surface could surround the level of experience of those who interact with the module.  The desire to use a digital format as opposed to that of a face-to-face instructor controlled format may present challenges.  In the absences of nothing, one can only speculate as to the level of engagement on the part of the learner.

In the TEDxNYED presentation, there are many powerful ideas that will certainly impact my practice as I move from infancy to maturation.  Several thoughts which resonate with me at this point in my learning are:

“The act of showing others how we are learning is an instructional task.” (11:14)

“Every expression is an opportunity for connection in a digital space.” (11:23)

“Problems can’t be solved by an individual. They can be solved by a network.” (14:16)

Lab chewing a bone
Something to chew on…

What resonates with you from Siemens’ talk?  Where are the challenges and struggles for you at this point in your learning?


Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2012). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. John Wiley & Sons.

Pazdzion, A. (2017, October 11). Connectivism. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International journal of instructional technology and distance learning2(1), 3-10.

Siemens. (2010, April 13). TEDxNYED – George Siemens – 03/06/10. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from

Adult 640 #6: Learning Module(s)-Revealing the topic

valrc_logo          The Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center is an organization housed within Virginia Commonwealth University.  Specialists provide face-to-face, online training as well as individual support for Virginia Adult Education trainers. VALRC partnered with the Virginia Literacy Institute in 2003 to form an organization to support Adult Educators in both the private and public sector.

The topic that I have selected for this project is two-fold.  The first component is to review, evaluate and update the Career and College Readiness Standards (CCRS) for English Language Arts and Mathematics.  The online module begins with an introduction to the program. The standards are written for the education of adults who have either not earned a high school diploma. An additional component, English Language Proficiency Standards is a new component of the online program which will be included in the overall module. Many of the adult learners are individuals for whom English is not their first language. The transition for this program is a move from calling the program a General Equivalency Diploma program (GED), to one which engages learners with preparation for either a career or further education after successful completion of the program.  When students complete the current GED test, the score indicates if the student is prepared for community college or a four-year academic program.  The module training will reflect this change in philosophy.

GED transitions to become CCR

The current module uses the platform, Storyline, and was last created approximately (3) three years ago. The organization desires to have the two existing programs, along with the introduction, updated. There are individual activities for participates to complete which introduces Adult Educators to the Career & College Readiness Standards. The inclusion of English Language Proficiency (ELP) to the Standards training provides a more complete image of the expectations for both educators and learners.

Individuals who provide adult education instruction are expected to participate in this training. Training partners may include community colleges, public school systems, correction institutions as well as nonprofit organizations. Trainees are identified by managers or administrators. Participation may be a prerequisite for an individual who transitions from one component of a program into one which educates adult learners.

Many of the adult education instructors are retired K-12 instructors who wish to teach 1-2 classes per week. Others work full-time positions and provide CCR instruction in the evening.  A common misunderstanding regarding CCR education surfaces with those who have taught in a K-12 setting.  The educator is well seasoned in their discipline and in how to educate learners in their previous setting.  The methods and practices of andragogy, are often unfamiliar to those with experience in working with children. A transition from the simple completion of a GED to that of preparing for a career or college is an important component of adult education. Many adult educators are Caucasian, in their mid-50’s, moderately well-educated and find digital technology challenging.  Those who have experience in public education may have a bias against the concept of “standards.”

Learning through this module provides physical, digital and possibly generational distance. The lack of physical presence on the part of the facilitator, the natural progression of an electronic module (i.e. “clicking” through a program)  coupled with the individual frustrations with technology impact the Transactional Distance of learners. Educators who lack familiarity with a learning management system, or who may live in an area with limited bandwidth also find the completion of a module an impediment to understanding CCRS.

Education specialists have struggled with how to unpack the standards in such a way as to make it as relevant and as balanced as possible in a digital setting. Through a conference call, they expressed to me that the delivery of the standards is found to be clunky. They expressed that when planning for the revision of the three (3) modules and the creation of the fourth (4th)  is that participants are not able or willing to provide an extensive amount of time to complete the modules. It’s important for me to understand that the current length appears suitable. They desire that what is presented to adult educators be meaningful as well as provide ways in which to engage learners in thinking more critically about the standards, how they impact the facilitation of learning and preparation for a meaningful career.

When I work through the current model, the graphics of the Community of Inquiry (COI) model, (SP, CP, and TP along with Perception, Deliberation, Conception and Action) will be an important lens with which to view the current training. The continuous movement of arrows and circles suggest that there isn’t an ending.  One’s presence in an educational experience should be fluid.  It will be my challenge to discover how to infuse COI to best support and enhance the participant’s learning experience. While I assume that the module will include components of the COI coding template, it will be interesting to see which digital tools are used and which might be of value to the learning. I may find it useful to enhance the template for descriptors.  COI coding template

I’m really excited about the opportunity to work on this learning project for VALRC.  Several of the specialists in this facility have matriculated through the Adult Learning program at VCU.  The interim director has taken this course in the Teaching and Learning with Technology track.  When discussing the learning in the first three (3) weeks of the course, we were able to discuss the module using the nomenclature of e-Learning!  The specialists who spoke with me on the conference call have provided a wealth of materials for me to use as a starting point for this project.  I have received permission to access the training this week.  I will have an abundance of support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for this learning module. Most importantly, the module is of use and support for literacy across the Commonwealth, which is of great importance to me as an Educator.

Lab chewing a bone
Too much to chew on…

I wish that I had an audio recording of the conference call.  While I took a wealth of notes, I am now worrying that I may have omitted something of importance.  I won’t sweat it too much. I’m sure that there will be multiple opportunities to blog about this project.


Adult 640 #5: Rubric-I can write a blog…

Writing a blog…what a daunting task. Sure, I have thoughts, just like Julie Powell. What does one say and how does one know if anyone will read it or care? Prior to my engagement with the Adult Learning program, I knew little about blogging except what was referenced in popular culture.  With little direction or guidance regarding how to create a blog, I was told to simply blog and comment on the writing of others. Sixty-five blog posts later and the task has become less daunting than when I first began in 2012.  I still procrastinate and find that I write my blog in my head before I sit down at the computer.  While the process works for me, it’s still a process which engages an extensive amount of thought.


I love the idea of a rubric.  Tools that allow the student to understand what is expected of them also requires the teacher to provide transparency when evaluating work.  As a teacher, I know that the chasm between what the instructor expects and what the student must demonstrate can be rather wide.  One’s familiarity with the value of using a rubric when planning for a learning event provides the medium whereby students are able to cycle through the integration and resolution stages of learning.

When considering the (3) examples of a rubric used for assessing blog writing the following ideas surfaced:

A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs was rather procedural in nature.  This is what you do and this is how you do it.  The emphasis seemed to be on grading as opposed to the blog as a component of one’s learning. Establishing a word-limit for a response to the weekly reading, in my opinion, is perfect for one who is high in precision and sequence.  It shows a lack of value for those who are more technical in their thinking and writing. One of my former blogging partners composed the shortest blog posts that I have ever read.  When I learned that she was a banker with a computer science background, I understood her penchant for tight, technical responses. Those who are high in the areas of confluence love to think outside of the box, see the blog as a less formal way of expressing ideas and synthesizing their learning. This individual might score high in the “Use of Enhancements” category but may need to be reminded to consider the community of readers who are expected to respond to the writing.

Assessing a student’s blog in 1-2 minutes shows little or no respect for the time necessary to reflect on the weekly reading assignment. Commenting on 1-2 blogs in a semester of writing engages the “git-er-done” philosophy of grading. I followed through several of the hyperlinks as well as the responses to the original article. I assume that the creation of an individual blog is considered to be the traditional hub-and-spoke model of blogging? Acquiring a sense of ownership is what one does when creating and aggregating all of the work for an academic program. Developing a sense of an audience is a pedagogical concern expressed by the author, Mark Sample, in a response to a query by a reader. However, he did not include it in the “Rating Characteristics” section of his article.

His suggestion of the assignment of blog roles for each week is an interesting concept, but not one postulated in the original reading. My overall impression is that this rubric scoring system resembles mass, generic grading of busy work.  The publication of this article is 2009. I can assume that within the last nine years that the engagement and evaluation of blogs have shown evidence of learning on both the part of the instructor as well as that of the owner.

Dr. Karen Frankler’s A+Rubric is a rather tight, precise way in which to consider the quality of a blog entry. While I consider myself to be high in both precision and sequence, I have several concerns about what she has created. Moving from unsatisfactory to exemplary seems counterproductive to me.  While providing examples of what something “is” and “is not” is of use for the learner, there are still too many gray areas which lend themselves to overt subjectivity.  For example, the idea of comprehensive insight and the cohesive viewpoint may be defined differently from one instructor to another. While I struggle with the percentages provided to each category, I do value the transparent concept of what makes writing exemplary and what makes it unsatisfactory.  While it has been my experience that many adult learners struggle with writing, in a graduate setting, writing should be as natural and automatic as breathing.  (Who hasn’t left graduate school feeling like a writing machine?) This form of rubric would be sufficient for the evaluation of my work with corrections to the format and the scoring. Percentage points are subjective and are ones that I would ignore.  At this stage of my career as a student, I am far more concerned with the learning than the grading.  I would expect that the inclusion of as an annotation of the scoring would justify the score.  It would allow me to understand the thinking of the evaluator and provide a point from which to make improvements to the quality of my work.

Something I would consider…Mark Sample, in an August 14, 2009 response to his article suggested that in a large group setting the roles of a student who is a 1st responder, a commentator and then a synthesizer be assigned.  This is an interesting idea and one that would be of use to me as a semi-experienced reflective blogger.  Students who are comfortable might find that this next level of engagement to be an indicator of collaboration through group cohesion and social presence.

Tim Horgan’s Blogging Rubric is more concise.  At a glance, I would place work that receives a score of “4” first as that it should be the ultimate goal of both the learner and the evaluator.  Learning to create a piece of writing that exhibits original ideas in a manner that’s easy to understand should be the goal of the writer.  Providing learning opportunities to grow one’s skill should be the goal of the instructor. This is a graphic consideration, and one that may seem overly trite, but I like to use keywords and bullets as opposed to lengthy descriptors when creating a rubric.

I assume that as I move forward in this learning experience that my work should show evidence of previous learning from class discussions? The Community of Inquiry Coding Template provides indicators for categories that correspond to each element, or presence. A component of the rubric, for me, might include several of the indicators. For example, open communication through risk-free expression might be a component of the rubric which supports the framework. In the community section, I would consider how this section enhances one’s “Social Presence.”

Each member of the community has the ability to blog and most certainly has something of value to add to the conversation. Rubrics should guide both the reader and the writer to achieve higher levels of presence in their interactions with others.

Something to chew on…

After reading this entry, which components do you think I may have overlooked?  Which components of the (3) examples would you suggest that I consider when preparing for and evaluating my work? 







Adult640 #4: Transactional Distance-Is anyone there?

Anyone who has spent time in public education during the last decade can count on both hands the number of times the descriptor, “Engaged Learner” is referenced by the administration in a single conversation. What was significant in terms of the planning and delivery of instruction is so overused that the value of one’s presence in learning has become lost in the context.

Consider Ben Stein’s portrayal of the teacher in the film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  The classic responses are ones that transcend generations and give viewers a common understanding of the plight of learners in a traditional setting.

The distance between the learners in this video clip, the content and the delivery method is rather wide.  While exaggerated for comedic effect, it’s certainly useful in providing a mechanism to hold the attention of the student., i.e. “The Hook.”

As a learner in both a traditional and online setting, the transactional distance I experienced was significant when attempting to develop as a reflective practitioner through blog writing. With great regularity, fellow graduate students would lament the lack of interaction between blog partners and professors.  Reflection sans interaction resembles floating aimlessly in space.  When classmates and professors not only react but respond and reply to blog posts and comments, a dialogue occurs.  Such dialogue tethers me as a learner to the content.

My social presence is felt by those with whom I am learning. In their introduction, Garrison, Anderson, and Archer suggest that “we need(ed) to connect the human issues around online, text-based communication…(p.5).” One of my “human” issues with blogging is that I need to know if anyone is actually reading and thinking about what I am writing.  More importantly, I need to be challenged through the conversation of those who are reading and writing as well.

3 legged stoolThe analogy of the (3) legged stool resurfaces again when considering the importance of balance between Cognitive, Social and Teaching presence.  I was particularly moved by the reflective nature of their observation, “Looking back on the Coi seminal paper, some of the language we used perhaps elevated cognitive presence to a higher status within the Coi than it should have had (p. 6).” From the perspective nature of public education, the social presence of learners is not one in which conversations occurred between staff and administration. The relative stability of the (3) presences should guide my perspective on how I approach online learning.


How can this framework be utilized to shorten transactional distance?

The adult learners in the module that I will create for this course are those individuals who provide College and Career Readiness learning for students who do not hold a high school diploma from the United States.

Setting Climate: (Social Presence) Group cohesiveness, learning, and a shared identity are crucial to the experience of the learner. It is my hope that at the conclusion of this e-Learning course that the climate which surrounds me as a learner is one in which I have shared learning experiences, challenges, and excitement surrounding online learning.  To the best of my knowledge, each participant in this group  (Adult 640) has done so willingly.  No one is participating under duress. When postulating ideas, concerns, and challenges, it is my hope that I may do so comfortably.  What we did NOT do in establishing this climate is to create ground rules as a learning community outlining the expectations that will support cohesiveness and learning. Just a thought.  Not a criticism. 

When creating and making revision suggestions to the CCRS modules, the individuals who will engage with them do so at the request of a manager or administrator.  Understanding the standards created by the VDOE are essential for all adult instructors to understand.  How they interpret and engage them, may become part of the instructional design. 

Selecting Content: (Cognitive Presence) The activities in the module strengthen the social identity of those who wish to implement the CCRS as opposed to those who wish to strengthen their interpersonal relationships and personal identity. The subject matter for this module is determined by the Department of Education.

The challenge for me as an instructional designer is how to create a learning environment which seeks to create a balance between design and direction and facilitation and direction. I have gathered, from a recent conference call with the client, that selecting content which engages learners in discourse will present a challenge to me as a designer.  This will be an opportunity to use my classmates as a source of knowledge and authority as I have no previous experience in this area. 

Structure Presence: (Teaching Presence) In the absence of experience on my part, I offer a rather sad, but comical anecdote shared by a family member.  This individual lamented the disappearance of a professor who became AWOL for nearly three weeks of an online course (UC Davis).  The discovery of a dead body on the professor’s extensive property was far more enticing than his presence in this management course. While this example is rather extreme, I would speculate that both the physical, social and cognitive presence of the teacher may resemble an active intervention. A teacher is essential in order to achieve positive learning outcomes ((Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, Archer p.5). When considering what makes learning meaningful to a student, timely feedback, an opportunity to link professional, work and educational experience with content are suggested by students in an edition of Faculty Focus (March 14, 2016).

How I will mediate all of the components of an online learning model will be the result, I expect, of the culmination of course readings, the interaction of web modules, discussions with classmates and my interaction with the existing modules and tools provided by the VDOE.

When perusing the COI website, I noticed that the discussion threads were rather old and lacking multiple threads of dialogue.  Perhaps this is due in part to the dispersal of the original research team?  Perhaps the conversation has moved to a larger venue on the web?

The transactional distance between me, as the individual creating the content of an asynchronous, text-rich course, is one in which I might find the words, “Is anyone out there?” a regular utterance if not for the Community of inquiry framework designed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer. The framework is a visual reminder of the importance of balance when designing instruction for learners. The elements of the COI framework can certainly be utilized to shorten the transactional distance between the learners and teachers in both the module that I will create as well as this course.


Something to chew on…

When the teacher asks probing questions, a model for cognitive presence is presented in a social format.  When responding to a classmate’s blog, I ask questions, but rarely disagree in a public forum.  How do you participate in discourse with civility 


Anderson, T., Liam, R., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context.

Bigatel, P. M. (2016). Student engagement strategies for the online learning environment. Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications.

The Community of Inquiry. (n.d.). Retrieved June 08, 2018, from