Week 3 reflections

As I was working through Week 3 study materials, I learnt
about the three types of programs offered to adult learners: individual,
organizational and societal. I had never thought about the “end-user”
differences in goals; for some reason I only paid attention to the specific objectives of a
particular program and never seemed to notice the bigger picture. As it turns
out, this module really helped me zoom out and realize how big the context of a
program is. I can now identify whether the purpose of a program is one of individual, organizational or
social change.

The context of each of those three types of programs is
comprised of the stakeholders, who are involved in or
affected by the program course of action. There are primary and
secondary stakeholders; the latter being observers rather than active and
direct links to a particular program. I really liked that Jo-Anne’s Week 3 Reflections
included course participants’ families amongst the secondary stakeholders, as
they are too affected by an educational program workload. In fact, as I am
working on these reflections, my husband is dying to play his favourite
computer game and keeps reminding me I’ve been glued to the monitor far too
long today:)

The program that I am hoping to develop during this Program
Planning course will hopefully combine individual and social changes.

Program Planning_Week 2 Assignment 1

Planning Theory According to Sork

  1. How would you characterize
    the early development of program planning theory?

In 1949 program planning theory was defined as four guided questions looking at the purpose, content, method and evaluation of a program. In 1950 the theory was complemented by adding learner needs. In 1966 social and political aspects of program planning were added – the more elements that were added, the more flexible the process became. Starting off as a technical and very linear procedure based on behaviouristic principles, the planning process became detailed and elastic and as soon as humanistic learning principles came into
play acknowledged the importance of various stakeholder contributions to the process.

  1. How does the feminist
    critique affect program planning processes?

According to Sork, the feminist critique confronts the lack of gender considerations in conventional program planning. Although literature on women as learners and the role of gender in education exists, it has minimal
influence on program planning.

In her blog, Jer mentioned some challenges female learners face as they enter formal educational
programs. Her example of pregnancy as a major obstacle to the continuation of a female’s learning path is very common even in the 21st century. I am hoping that that the increase in online learning will alleviate the problem. At the same time, I agree that measures need to be taken to make formal face-to-face education more ‘access-for-all’.

  1. What is the core principle
    of postmodernism, and how does it show up in program planning?

The core principle of postmodernism is to question everything that has been defined because there is no objective truth. A postmodernistic approach to program planning involves an understanding of who the stakeholders are and what their interests include.

  1. What is “critical theory”,
    and why is it important to program planning?

Critical theory is concerned with social change which is important because any educational activity should bring about emancipation and empowerment.  Critical theory also helps us understand the role of power, which in the case of program planning lies in the hands of the program planner, who invites stakeholders and decides on the content of negotiations.

  1. What is required in order
    to work as an “ethically-responsible” program planner?

To work as an “ethically-responsible” program planner, I must understand why and how certain decisions are made so they can be justified in a particular context.

  1. Make notes of the kinds of
    actions that a program planner operating in each of the three domains
    might take.

Three domains of program planning

Type of a
Technically-capable planner Asks surface-level questions, i.e. how- to:How to market the course? How to include
learners in planning? How to evaluate the course?
Socio-politically-aware planner Looks at the human dynamics in program
planning, e.g. how stakeholders engage and arrive at decisions as a group
Ethically-responsible planner Looks at the justifications for decisions
made by the group

Neither the craft, nor the
artistry should be neglected in program planning. I would place equal
importance on each of the domains.


Interactive Model

  1. Compare the diagram on page 10 of
    the Sork article and page 21 of the Cafarella textbook.
  • Both models are non-prescriptive, i.e. they serve as flexible guides rather than blueprints
  • Both contain the key elements of program planning
  • Both are interactive and represented in a circular framework of equal elements
  • Caffarella’s model is task-based, whereas Sork’s model is question-based
  • Caffarella’s model has 12 elements, whereas Sork’s model has 6
  1. Near the top of page 22, Cafarella
    talks about program planning as a “people activity”. How does this
    influence her model?

The word ‘interactive’ in Caffarella’s model suggests that all sorts of interactions are going on at the planning
table between the program planners and the stakeholders. It is the people who sit at the table and their world views and experiences that influence the nature and shape of the program being discussed.

  1. Notice the checklist on pages 23
    and 24. These can serve as an invaluable reference if you are developing
    new programs. Compare the sequence of this list to your file cards. How
    were the positions of different planning elements similar or different?

The sequence of my planning elements is similar to that of Caffarella. I also start with content planning and then move onto more administrative tasks. Building a support base comes later on my list
considering the context of my planning position.

  1. Read through the assumptions on
    pages 26 to 28 of Cafarella. Are there any that you question or outright
    disagree with? Why or why not?

I agree with all of Caffarella’s assumptions. They take into consideration the dynamics of the program planning
process and especially the human factor, which brings a variety of perspectives to the table and needs to be heeded and represented in the final result.

Program Planning Week 2 reflections (1)

Having played with the cards task, I came up with the following sequence of program planning elements.

*These would be online tools and synchronous events in my context.

I divided the elements into two groups: content-related and admin-related ones. In my current role, I would start building a new program from the content side; however, I can see how a program planner in a different context than mine, a business one for instance, would start their planning with budgeting.

Program Planning Week 1

Question 1: Explain the difference between formal and informal adult learning, and give examples.

The difference between formal and informal learning lies in the direction of who controls the learning objectives and goals. In formal learning it is the institution that determines the whats and hows, whereas in informal learning, it is the learner himself who decides what to learn, when and at what pace.

Ruby has presented a great metaphor when speaking of the difference between formal and informal learning. In her blog, formal learning is compared to driving a bus; the bus driver is the ultimate oracle of knowledge who decides upon the best route and the speed of the driving experience. His bus is filled with people who simply follow the rules and leave the vehicle at pre-determined stops. On the other end of the learning spectrum, informal learning is compared to riding a bike, which gives the rider the ownership of the route, speed and stops.

According to Tough, only about 20% of adult learning takes place in formal settings. That means that 80% of it depends on our intentional or unintentional self-directed learning through daily interactions with colleagues and friends, through books and online research, etc. If newcomers want to learn English fast to successfully settle in Canada, they cannot solely depend on their classes to improve their language skills; they must take advantage of daily opportunities and free online resources to achieve their goals. A PLE/PLN (Personal Learning Environment/Personal Learning Network) map can nicely show the 80-20 ratio – see an example here.

To learn to install bamboo flooring when I needed to redecorate my house, I did research on the Internet, and with books and cassettes I started learning English when I was 13. Both are examples of informal learning. When I decided to become a teacher of English as a Second Language, I enrolled in formal training that ended with a degree which allowed me to work in professional settings.

Question 2: Describe the role of program planners

What I learnt this past week is that a program planner is a project manager involved in all stages of devising learning programs except for writing learning materials and creating activities. What I am confused about is the fact that Caffarella does mention preparing instructional plans as one of the steps of program planning. I am hoping to find clarification as the course progresses.

Question 3: List some of the key elements (activities, stages) of program planning

Determining the needs of all stakeholders

Identifying aims

Recruiting trainers/teachers

Preparing budget and marketing plans

Overseeing logistics of the course delivery

Preparing and analyzing evaluation plans

Preparing a schedule with target dates for completion

some thoughts on virtual teaching

Yesterday I led a virtual class that had all sorts of problems…

First of all, only one learner showed up despite my efforts to widely advertise the class. It seems even though online learning is supposed to be flexible adult learners still struggle with finding time for synchronous events. Is it because they forget to mark their calendars? Is it because they don’t think they will learn anything? I don’t seem to be able to find answers to those questions.

Second of all, the learner who attended the class did not have a headset, which caused a lot of echoing when I passed the microphone to her: I could hear myself twice throughout the whole lesson. Even though this is usually a major disruption I decided to go with it and after each time I spoke I paused until my voice decided to dissipate.

Thirdly, the screen sharing tool got blocked by my anti-virus program! It was a first. I apologized to my learner and chatted with her while fiddling with the ports on my computer to fix my access to screen sharing. After a few minutes screen sharing was available and I was happy to move on. Hooray!

On the bright side,

  • I didn’t panic; I just played along with what came at me.
  • I successfully multitasked and fixed the port issue on my computer while chatting with the participant.
  • The participant did not get flustered although it was her first virtual class experience. She was happy to realize that she could understand what was being said and done.
  • As there was only one person in the class, I was able to ask her to demonstrate what she learnt: she shared her screen with me and successfully displayed her new skills.

So, some best practices that came out of this experience are:

  • Never panic – smile and take your time to find a solution.
  • Have some extra questions on hand that participants can work on while you are solving any problems.
  • Have Skype open on the side to talk with participants during screen sharing (the chat box in the virtual class cannot be seen at that time). Form a group conversation in Skype so you don’t have to respond to 10 similar messages.
  • Insist that participants have headsets if they wish to speak during the class.
  • Be happy with what you have and make the best of it.

Is George Siemens a MOOC-choir conductor?

Debbie has done a phenomenal job with the CCK11 final project video: I had goose bumps watching it. The message of the video is extremely powerful: technology enhances connections wherever we are. In her blog Debbie says that Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir “is the ultimate metaphor (and reality) of what can happen in the today’s networked world. The idea of people from all over the world collaborating with their voices to make stunning music…”

My question is: What does a choir have to do with a MOOC?

A choir is where everyone sings in tune the same tune under a direction of one person=1 conductor.  All eyes are looking in one direction, the conductor’s direction. One can’t be off-tune, can’t make a mistake, can’t be slower or have no musicality. All bodies must connect at the same nanosecond.

A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is where everyone sings a different tune under one’s own direction=multiple conductors. Participants are all different, have different voices and bring different experiences and perspectives; to learn we do not need to sing in tune with everyone else. The idea of a MOOC is that every individual takes responsibility for and ownership of their own tune: takes and gives so others can reformulate and sing their own tunes. They can learn at their own pace, be very active or just lurk.

My answer is: Not much really. The choir resembles a teacher-directed classroom, not a MOOC.

In my view both concepts are at the opposite ends of a spectrum. George Siemens is not a conductor. MOOC and unstructured learning have nothing to do with a choir per se.

Nonetheless, both concepts are great and accommodate diverse learners’ needs. Some learners need to have the total control of a teacher; others love the freedom of being able to decide how, where and when the learning happens for them. Both concepts are a celebration of learning and the music of the virtual choir instantly increases a listener’s motivation to act and be a part of this massive movement of XXI century digital learning.

I really like how Debbie has combined it all in her video to show how technology makes the global community connective; I will play it in my presentation next week at the TESL 2011 national conference in Halifax. My presentation is on networked EAL/ESL learning and the video fits in perfectly. Thanks Debbie!

CCK11 Final Project

Here it is, my creative outburst of zooming-out thoughts.

As I was watching Hubble 3D this morning, I was reflecting on human race in the universe and our connectedness as a whole. This inspired me to do some zooming out as connectivism, I feel, requires a lot of it. Some people are flexible to constantly stretch their mindsets and see beyond what is within their reach; other are not.

And just like the universe is streatching non-stop, learning does too. So here’s my final project that is supposed to show how connected I am and how connectivism will change my design and delivery of learning.

I created a very short presentation in prezi, which links to a mindmap in TheBrain. http://prezi.com/0sflcylslc1c/cck11/

Just in case the link in prezi doesn’t work, here’s the link to TheBrain map of how connected I am http://webbrain.com/u/12LK