And so…..out of all the new things I learned, what topic or point caused me to reflect the most…….change can be scary, fear inhibits learning and feeling safe and comfortable is important to establish a meaningful learning environment. Lots of words, I know, but really where I go with this is that new technology can be intimidating, particularly for some adult learners who may have lower levels of competency when it comes to using computers. This demographic group is ageing, however they will continue to be impacted by technology, need to continue to learn.
As an example, when I consider use of debit card machines, during the days of my youth we just waited in line at a grocery check out while the clerk manually punched in the prices, pulled up a receipt and waited for you to write a cheque (or pay cash).
Debit machines were a dream in someone’s head at that time. Now everybody uses debit machines — the thought of standing in line waiting for someone to write a cheque today seems almost absurd.
Yet, everyone who uses a debit machine, whether you are the clerk behind the counter or the customer making a purchase had to learn to use that technology as it became mainstream. It was and is the way business is conducted. The level of “comfort” or confidence in the technology took some time for people to build confidence in — just like using bank machines. It took time, practice and as it was used people became more competent and comfortable. That example can be used in any learning environment — whether the subject at hand be technical based or any other, but if it is a foreign concept for the learner they need to build and have their comfort and confidence with the subject grow over time — and experience.
So, when using new technology in an educational setting we need to make sure it “works” — meaning that it is functional, and that the end user (learner) is in a comfortable and somewhat predictable environment so they feel safe and secure. In otherwords, using that new “app” they may be using to learn isn’t going to break your phone, send out spam or otherwise create any damage. One example of a great mobile learning app that is easy to use, highly functional and allows the learner to revisit material or move forward more quickly is “Duolingo” — just one example of a well designed and implemented learning tool and mobile app for learning a new language.
As an instructor, this means — to align with Wlodkowoski’s Integrated Levels of Adult Motivation — I advocate taking the fear out of learning for learners…..by making it ok for them to ask for help (which could be done with a variety of messaging or course delivery apps), …..and “creating a safe learning environment that is free from humiliation or shame when students do not know the answer or are unfamiliar with the subject”. (Merriam, 2014)
I met up with my learning partner this week and we compared notes on the articles we had selected for discussion for Assignment 2. We both had focused on some area of technology — she on mobile apps, and I chose 3D technology and experiential learning through virtual environments. I looked through the “50 of the best teaching and learning apps for 2016” on her blog post and liked the variety of apps that were being showcased. Many of them, although more suitable for young learners could be used in an adult learning situation. Some are now mainstream like Evernote and Google Drive however a few like Color Uncovered piqued my interest — hadn’t see that before. As an artist I am interested in colour theory and impact of colour in our everyday environment, so I will be looking into this app and others like it. It was great to compare notes with my partner and discuss both the course work and the details of this assignment. We both agree that the digital world is where it’s at when it comes to leveraging teaching situations and communicating with students, without losing sight of the value of in person discussion. We also discussed the ease with which an instructor can send out a broadcast message to students, then provide feedback and dialogue with the student when they are seeking clarity on a piece of information or area of study — this can provide privacy to the student, so if there is discomfort asking questions “out loud” they can do so just with the instructor as the audience. That said, to provide a richer experience for the rest of the group sharing of questions being asked is the best idea in my opinion — so doing something that provides perhaps some anonymity– like an electronic bulletin board, will allow the questions to come forward, be viewed by all, generate more conversation and provide a richer learning experience. It does seem in many ways much of our current technology can provide a comfort level that is accessible and “one size fits all” — ‘cept for the differences between android and apple 🙂
All this said, content trumps everything — so if the material in the app isn’t rich enough, agile enough and easy to navigate it will be tossed aside as quickly as yesterday’s news feed. This reinforces the need for using a critical eye, evaluating your sources (integrity/validity) and make sure what you provide students is value added.
Website : https://www.duolingo.com/ accessed May 1, 2017
Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice, Merriam, S, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco 2014
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