and you think facilitating at 8am is tough!

30 06 2006

ran across this two part webcast recording at webcast academy – which was linking to them orginal files at   

conversation with albert, part 1 download mp3 ( 56:28, 25.8MB)

conversation with albert, part 2 download mp3 ( 40:58, 18.7MB)   

this astounding webcast features albert – a blind, sufi, self-labeled hippie teacher in a refugee camp in western sahara. the first 8-10 minutes are pretty slow as the show’s hosts help albert with some technical issues. but for the next 90+ minutes, albert paints a picture so stark and so genuine that you can almost feel the sand brushing against your cheek and the desert sun beating against your shoulders.

make no mistake, albert may have alot of things making life nearly horrific by developed world standards, but he is a teacher of the highest caliber. to hear him talk of a female student who overcame the oppression that comes with being born west saharan (10 out of 10 babies born today will be dead by this time next year, Albert tells us), the gender bias that comes from being born into a conservative muslim society, and an education system that usually, at best, teaches hygene and desert survival skills is to hear a teacher proud in the fact that he made a difference in at least one student’s life.

take the time to get to know albert through these webcasts.  It will be two hours you’ll remember for a very long time. 

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webcasting resources

30 06 2006

in the following post i mention webcastacademy and  these are two “must visit” websites.  webcast academy is a school designed to certify new professionals in webcasting.  their mission articulates the following goals:

  • increasing the number of people who are capable of producing live, interactive webcasts
  • applying the open source community approach to skill development
  • creating a place that formally recognizes proficiency,  excellence, and innovation  in these new media skills

In essence they are working to increate the literacy in the audio arena that we will need to have to  compete in a future where text will become insignificant compared to audio andvideo.  their curriculum, while still in development looks very solid and quite akin to jay cross’s approach with his unworkshop. is a site dedicated to advancing webcasting as a way people connect, learn and collaborate.  this is a must have resource if you are at all interesting in improving your  knowledge about webcasting.

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tearing down strawmen

16 06 2006

i believe that one of the key factors in when and how workers’ attitude and motivation regarding workplace learning will shift from ambivalence to enthusiasm will occur when both learning and development professionals and line busines managers both change their paradigm of how adult learners learn.  this includes understanding informal learning, social networks, and performance development.  this post will look at a major concept in education that i believe must be overthrown before this paradigmic change can occur.

the concept that adults learn radically different from children must torn down!

in his book, the modern practice of adult education (the current edition is entitled the adult learner), malcolm knowles sets adult learning up as dichotomous with child learning.  charts like the one below can be found in websites from around the globe (a google search on "pedagogy vs. andragogy" and variants produced 1254 results). it’s easily one of the best know models in education.

the following chart is typical of these charts.  knowles even went as far as to characterize the andragogic side of the pairings as "good" versus the "bad" pedagogical attributes.  he backed away from the good/bad characterization in the book’s second edition, but the damage was already done.  this characterization of the radically different ways of learning is among the most accepted tenents in education.

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attributes of children’s learning (pedagogy) versus adult learning (andragogy)
mandatory attendance
voluntary attendance
subject centered
problem centered
dependant learner
independent learners
inexperienced learner
experienced learner
teacher prescribed content
learner prescribed content
learners grouped by age/ability
learners grouped by interest/need
learning for the future
learning for the now
learners subordinate to teacher
learners equal to the teacher
rigid, traditional structure
flexible, alternative structure
passive learners
active learners


with these dichotomies intrenched in our thinking, we continually fall in to the same old habits when it comes to instructional design and facilitation.  Instead assuming that  "adults won’t play games in class"; we should be determining what types of "games" are stimulating to adults and when would they be considered relevant and worthwhile.  Many consider simulations to be quite game like, yet well crafted simulations have been wildly successful with adults.

you might argue that knowles actually
was talking about instructional methodologies and that these tenets should be
read only with regard to instructional design for formal settings.  there are
two arguments against this position.

  1. the vast majority of the current presentation of these attributes is as
    children’s learning versus adult learning.  i did not find one example of this dichotomy being presented as “methods
    for teaching children in a school setting vs. methods for teaching adults in a formal educational setting.”  no matter
    what knowles’ intent was, the current interpretation should be debunked.
  2. some of these tenets are false even in light of
    the methodology argument. this is the
    argument that knowles acquiesced to in the second edition of the modern practice of adult education and
    has been borne out in new evidence uncovered in brain sciences, evolutionary psychology, genetic studies and
    the cognitive science research.

one method for invalidating a theory is to demonstrate examples in which the theory does not hold to be true.  this is the method i’ll use to bring this misconceived theory of adult learning to it’s knees.  let’s run through each of the pairings one at a time.

mandatory attendance vs. voluntary attendance

this is clearly not the case even at the methodology level
of the argument. adults are regularly
required to attend legal compliance training (sexual harassment, violence in
the workplace, etc.), adults are often required to attend remedial education
programs by the courts, and professionals in a wide variety of fields are
required to attend continuing education courses to maintain their licenses and
certifications.  clearly pre-school aged children are not compelled by an external authority to learn each day – but they do.  and to believe that the only learning that happens in a school is what is taught between the opening and closing bells is simply being naive.

conclusion: obviously,
attendance policies have very little to do with how humans learn at any age

dependant learners vs. independent learners

this pairing regards children as dependent upon their
instructor to structure their learning experiences and maintains that adults
structure their own learning. clearly,
children in the most dynamic stages of human learning are seldom guided in
their learning.  play and exploration are
the means by which they rapidly gather and assimilate information into
knowledge. when they get confused, they will defer to an "expert" – usually a parent, a caregiver, or any kid who is older than they are.  on the other side of the pair, in this time of too much to do in too little time, our learners and their managers are demanding that we stop wasting their time and deliver the content they need.  or better yet, let them connect with the "expert" directly.  then they’ll have a resource they can turn to when it’s needed.

the shared experiences of parent
and child, tradesperson and novice, teacher and student are all examples of
learning through collaborative activities. such collaboration is invaluable by
making accessible to learners what they might not be able to learn alone. (billett, 2001, p. 19)

conclusion: the reality
is that all learners are at times dependent in their learning and at other
times independent. the variable is not  age but  rather a factor of experience  and expertise.


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