Posts Tagged With: learning

Learning, development, and transformation

A student in one of my classes asked a question about how are learning and change, transformative learning, and development are connected and yet different and that’s one that I’ve pondered while teaching the learning and development class.

Piaget talks about developmental learning where one must be at a proper developmental stage to learn certain things. Vygotsky talks about learning leading development. Some of Baxter-Magolda’s writing suggest that learning and development are basically the same thing with development subsumed into learning. I tend to fall into the camp that sees learning and development separately -mainly due to the directional nature of development.

At the basic level development can be described as directional growth and adaptation to be more effective in the world. Learning can be described as change in knowledge, skills, attitudes, behavior, or beliefs. The difference being that learning can be maladaptive as well as adaptive. As the example later on in Julie Dirksen’s book (which we’re using in the course) shows, someone texting and driving repeatedly with no incident is learning that despite all the evidence to the contrary they can text and drive safely even when no one else can. That is something they learn from experience and maintain as a behavior and belief until they have a wreck. It would be learning but not development.

On the topic of transformational learning, Mezirow and others describe it as something substantially different from “normal” learning but in my opinion, it’s more a matter of degree. If you look at schema theory and accommodation it looks a lot like transformative learning on a less extreme scale. I don’t think that transformative learning is so different as to be a whole new type of learning when you look at it in the context of what has been discussed in educational psychology for decades. So, I suppose I’m assimilating tranformative learning theory instead of accommodating it because I don’t see it as being substantively different enough to warrant accommodation.

As an example, when the texting driver does have a wreck they could assimilate it by blaming the other driver (an external, uncontrollable attribution for those who remember attribution theory from Bandura).  Alternatively, they could consider it a “disorienting dilemma” or cognitive dissonance and begin to accommodate the experience by first recognizing that there is a problem with the way they are conceptualizing the issue – ie. “Maybe I’m not an exception to the rule after all. – and considering alternative explanations. The resolution of the accommodation could be as simple as not texting and driving or it could be the beginning of a larger life-review. If the person is someone who believes they are *always* that exception and rules don’t apply to them, choosing to accommodate instead of blaming someone else might trigger an experience that alters their self- and world-view. The question is, would that be an extension of accommodation (extreme accommodation?) or something completely different called transformative learning?

Thoughts? Examples?

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Teaching and Learning – what is it?

This is the first in a series of posts based on things I’m thinking about in relation to the courses I’m teaching this fall. One of the courses is titled the “Teaching/Learning Transaction” and since I inherited the title and description I’m starting out by exploring what the term “transaction” might mean in the context of adult teaching and learning and how choice of terms can influence how we think about what we do.

According to Merriam Webster:

  • Transaction is defined as a business exchange where goods, services, or money are passed from one person, account, etc., to another and the communication involved in that exchange.
  • Relationship is defined as the way in which two or more people, groups, or organizations talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other and the way in which two or more people, groups, or things are connected. 

Taking these terms at the “definitional” level, transaction is more a one-time interaction where relationship implies an ongoing connection. Jarvis (1995) argues that transactions are about self-interest while relationships are about connections and humanity. To muddy things a bit more Merriam Webster adds that:

  • process is a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result or a series of changes that happen naturally.

When we talk about learning we can do that without bringing teaching into the picture at all. Learning is on the learner’s end. What they do. What they know. How their synapses wire together. How their behavior adjusts or skills improve. We spend a good deal of time in adult education talking about self-directed learning and at times it seems like there is an assumption there that no teacher is involved – only a learner and material resources and other people in a more “consulting” role. But when we talk about teaching and learning we bring a more complex interaction into the picture. Whether the context is a community college classroom, a community workshop, an academic or career advising session, an online class, or a private piano lesson the interpersonal interaction drives the process.*

Dees, et. al. (2007) define transaction merely as “the ‘back and forth’ or ‘to-and-fro’ quality of the teaching/learning experience.” (p. 131) and picture an “overall instructional transaction” as a container holding the teacher, the learner(s), the environment, content, assessment, mode of instruction, and teaching style but it’s all crystallized in a specific moment of teaching (and presumably learning). Their purpose is to encourage in-the-moment reflection (likely reflexivity) in faculty so focusing on an individual transaction makes sense there.

Kansanen (1999) talks about this as a teaching-studying-learning process which describes teachers’ activities as teaching, learners’ activities as studying, and the outcome (hopefully) being learning. The description of this interaction is set firmly in an institutional classroom setting but the point that talking about a teaching-learning interaction brings up an impression of the teacher as active and the learner as more passive. While active learning and active construction of understanding/schema/neural networks is much more effective than passive “absorbsion” the language we use influences how we think about concepts and how we act on them.

* An aside: Zürcher (2010) suggests that technically the resources used in more individual self-directed learning can be considered limited “teachers” in an informal learning context and expands the concept of teaching/learning to include things such as videos, books, and study guides. Within the scope of this class many of the topics and strategies we will discuss will be applicable to these non-human interactions but the focus here is on human-human interaction – albeit mediated by time, distance, or mode of communication.

Bradford, L. P. (1958). The teaching-learning transaction. Adult Education Quarterly, 8(3), 135-145.

Dees, D. M., et al. (2007). A Transactional Model of College Teaching. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 19(2), 130-139.

Jarvis, P. (1995). Teachers and learners in adult education: Transaction or moral interaction? Studies in the Education of Adults, 27(1), 24-36.

Kansanen, P. (1999). Teaching as teaching-studying-learning interaction. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 43(1). 81-89

Zürcher, R. (2010). Teaching-learning processes between informality and formalization. the encyclopaedia of informal education.

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My Personal Learning Network

I had a class meeting earlier this week on tools for distance education and one of the things we talked about was the use of RSS feeds and Twitter as a source of current information on the field.  I compiled a brief selection of folks that I follow via RSS feed and/or Twitter for them and thought I’d share it here too in an effort to get this restarted.

If you’ve not used an RSS reader before but already have a gmail or other Google account I recommend Google Reader but there are several others as well as mobile readers.  If you’re not familiar with RSS you may want to watch the Common Craft Video. Here are some folks I follow. Some are DE related and some aren’t but they all are AE related in some way.

First off, if you’re not on Twitter or don’t know about following and hashtags take a look at the Common Craft video and this guide to Twitter for teachers. Here are some folks I follow on Twitter with a bit of their description about themselves.  There is some overlap from the previous list but the content is usually different.

  • @tomkuhlmann – I write the Rapid Elearning Blog where I share practical tips & tricks for building elearning courses.
  • @DataDiva – Fascinated by question: Can we quantify learning? Determined to combine learner-centered ed & informed use of data. 
  • @thiagi – Thiagi makes a living by playing games and helping others play games — to improve their performance.
  • @academicladder – Clinical Psychologist, President of Academic Ladder LLC, and founder of the Academic Writing Club
  • @kylemackie – teaching, learning and technology, social and participatory media, good design, architecture, accessibility, 
  • @hjarche – Work is learning & learning is the work. Partner at Internet Time Alliance.
  • @cammybean – learning designer with Kineo; making better eLearning throughout the world.
  • @NCLAdvocacy – To help advocates, leaders, and others who care about literacy to make a positive difference advocating for adult education and family literacy.
  • @C4LPT – Jane Hart is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT). 
  • @CatMoore – On a mission to save the world from boring corporate elearning. Creator of the action mapping ID process and the Elearning Blueprint.
  • @usablelearning – Instructional Design Geek-ette. Love brain stuff, learning, games, usability.

There are also regular Twitter chats that you may be interested in #lrnchat is normally every Thursday evening 8:30 – 10pm ET and Friday morning 9:30 – 11:00am ET.  eLearnchat is Wednesdays at 8p.  They have a live video interview with connected Twitter chat.  Some others I’ve heard of but not been to:

  • #smedu – Wednesdays at noon and 9 p.m. EST social media professionals, students, educators, and more can discuss using social media in education in this chat.
  • #edchat – Talk to a variety of educators around the world through #edchat, Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. EST.
  • #SAChat – Discuss student affairs with other professionals in the industry Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. CST and 6-7 p.m. CST.
  • #AcAdv – Tuesdays from 8-9 p.m. EST, you can talk to academic advisors and other colleagues about advising.
  • #IOLchat which stands for Inside Online Learning. Recent topics include “Online Learning & the Workplace” and “Preparing Students for Online Learning.” 

If you’re using something like TweetDeck or Seesmic you can save the hashtag search to make following the chat easier.

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Deliberate design, andragogy, and social media applications

Both Tony Bates and Janet Clarey are thinking here about elearning but the discussion is applicable to blended learning and f2f learning as well.

When you begin to think about providing a structured opportunity for learning is it all about delivery? How am I going to present content? Or is it about interaction and collaboration? How are the participants going to work with this content and each other to learn to apply it?

To start, you may want to unpack “learner-centered social constructivist approach” a bit. (You’ll also see social constructivist referred to as sociocultural though there’s a bit of a difference I don’t nit-pick at this level.) To do this, I’d recommend reading what IMHO is a classic overview of the topic: Searching for Learner-Centered,Constructivist, and Sociocultural Components of Collaborative Educational Learning Tools (and not just because it’s by two people I know and have worked with).

Curt and Don note that “Theory certainly cannot operate within a vacuum. Views on questions such as the nature of mind are developed by considering not only philosophical questions like the form of underlying mental representation, but also the world within which learners function. . . . If learning is predominantly a sociocultural dialogue, then instruction should provide opportunities for embedding learning in authentic tasks leading to participation in a community of practice. . . . But [this] presumes the availability, in the world of experience, of tools and structures to support them.” (p. 26).

As an adult educator you’ll notice that a lot of this learner-centered social constructivist approach sounds like andragogy. While some of it is dated please read through to the second half for their take on theory, principles, and collaborative learning tools. Given the advances in technology since 1998, there are many more collaborative tools available for use in any mode of learning (f2f, distance, or blended). How can you design deliberately to support adults and how can you leverage social media and applications to connect them to a larger community of practice?

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