in a moments break from science I took a look at Lins posterous blog http://linarmstrong.posterous.com/ and read with interest her last posting, which obviously refers to the course I am on, so by default, I guess I am one of the 'women' returning to education types that she mentions in the blog...although I don't think I [personally] fit into the category of the woman returning to education because of "a bad experience the first time around," nor do I think this is so for several of the people I have met on this course of study...although it may be the case for some? My school/FE experience wasn't a wholly negative one at all....in fact, I was going to go to uni at the 'usual' time - after FE - and was going to do a business studies degree....but then...at the last minute - I decided to go to America for a year...and that's what I did. I returned and headed straight to work....in HR, and never gave higher education a thought...I certainly didn't feel deprived/undervalued/undereducated because I hadn't gone to uni - in fact - some of that 'All American' confidence' I experienced had rubbed off on me and I was happy with the choice I had made about heading to the States...and the priceless experience I had gained there...[even if this had been at the expense of a university degree and my first chance at higher education.]
Long-story-short - I find myself on a degree course now because I have to be. I want to teach. To teach one needs a degree. Simple as that! I chose 2+2 because I thought it would be a steady way to get back into academic mode. I truly believe that I have the ability needed now to teach - with or without this degree.....only, legally, I'm not allowed to! HE remains for me - [as I have maintained all along] - a stepping stone towards a change of career [one I think is perfect for my skill set] for me.....I have nothing to prove by returning to ed, and I'm not fulfilling something I feel I missed out on years ago......that's just not my story at all.
I like the idea of connectivity and using technology to help us as learners - but I think this is only a big deal to us because of our age and the fact we are digital converts....I watch my children - even the youngest who is 8, logging on and googling a word in her spelling list because she is unsure of the meaning, I see my older two, emailing their homework to their email account at school, discussing history topics on school forums and connecting with their friends via MSN, and facebook - they do this naturally and without support from me.....it's really no big deal to them and why should it be? It's their language. They are digital natives. It is I, as the adult learner who is learning this as a new language.....and, if I really want to progress - I have to embrace this - I have to move with it.....or I feel I'll be left behind......but again.....it's just another stepping stone for me...like the degree - something I have to do.....no one showed me - I just immersed myself in it and then I think I began to evolve with it....and soon - I have become relatively digitally literate and wonder how I ever lived life pre-digital!
The only problem I have come across is that whilst the theory of digital networking is great (and it does work - look at the history forum at my sons secondary school - 100+ 14 year olds discussing who killed franz ferdinand - what great learning potential!) - my networking - via blogs/FB etc gets 2 - 4 comments/discussions max....I often feel like I'm discussing on my own....apart from a couple of regular fellow bloggers...who actually reads my muses? therefore, I feel as if my networking becomes more of a place of 'reflection'....a nice diary of things I've been up to on the degree....interesting..but only really to me! The actual 'learning' from networking for me is maximised only when there is interaction. I loved discussions in class - you learn loads from this; and I loved discussions on my blog.. but in reality, the latter didn't happen very often at all.
I wager that adult learners of the future, connectivity/networking digitally will just be something they do.....and it will be approached it as my children approac it now.....without even a blink of an eye.....