Saturday, April 30, 2016

Crossing platforms 'cause I need more characters

Under the auspices of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and #ETCoaches, I'm dabbling in a slow-chat book study of Effective Digital Environments by Jo Williamson. Something I read yesterday has been bugging me enough to prompt me to write more than a tweet. Here's the passage from page 101:
Technology coaches must understand that adults are already expert learners and want their existing professional knowledge and expertise to be valued. Typically, adults prefer self-directed learning and topics directly related to their work. Generally, adults learn better from actively constructing knowledge through solving problems or by producing practical products with peers.
Since reading that, I've been having a hard time separating adult learning theory from some larger pool of learning theories. Don't these words, for instance, encourage tech coaches to do what  many classroom teachers already do? Aren't the bits about adult learners true for any age group? Aren't embracing self direction, craving relevance, problem-solving, and making useful stuff (often through teamwork) coins of the realm for learner efficacy, regardless of age? Adults can't lay sole claim to this expertise, nor should they.

What the passage implies as a need for tech coaches to focus differently to serve their audience, feels to me more like learning business as usual. Not all adults are expert learners, and not all expert learners are adults.


  1. I also highlighted that passage. Your take on this has given another way to look at that passage and I hope you don't mind if I share my thoughts.

    While I agree that those choices, reasons should be available to students as well as adults I read that in a different way. The fact that some teachers allow that student agency is terrific, but still not the norm. Most adult learners already have that agency. While it is wonderful when students have that opportunity it is rarely guaranteed. I took this as a warning to not expect adults to be as compliant as stunts are. Personally, I moved from 120 students which had to do as I asked to a position at at a district where no one reported to me and I had to invite all interactions; I am more successful when I intentionally acted more inline with the above advice. I took this as a wise warning to treat adult learners - as you rightly point out - as the ideal for all learners.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Penny, and adding your perspective. Your comment makes all kinds of sense to me about the desired mindset for someone coaching adults -- or as an aspirational attitude when working with younger learners.