Monday, 15 June 2009

lins experiment...

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.....

2 comments:

Clare said...

This blog is just screaming respond to me!!! Well, here's my response! You obviously find IT easy to deal with and have embraced it entirely. I on the other hand really struggle with it. I know slightly more about IT now than I did when I embarked on this course, but it still terrifies and bewilders me sometimes. I have struggled most of my morning trying to change my profile picture on fb, for God's sake! I simply don't have the capacity in my brain to take on board all the ins and outs of it. Give me a book any day. I understand it's necessary to move with the times and not get left behind, but there is a limit to what I can cognitively learn within the techno environment. Even reading words on a screen is a difficult process for my temporal lobe. Printed words are much more my preferred style of learning. This aside, I guess teaching mature students as oppose to mainstream key stages is a different kettle of fish and your future pupils will be embracing technology as much as you. BUT - it will always be a concern of mature students such as myself returning to FE/HE as to what extent IT will be used as a learning tool. I perhaps fit Lin's supposed outline of the typical person on the courses she teaches (bad first experience of HE etc etc) but I have now taken the plunge again and I am enjoying the course. What is important to remember is not to leave behind the ones who find IT really difficult to master. Oh, and if my children come home needing to email homework and chat on forums about history, I'm afraid it's their dad to whom they'll have to turn when they need help! Can you feel the desperation?!

Jen said...

Thanks for the response Clare. I guess we are opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of IT then. By this I don’t mean in terms of my IT ability [and I’m no techno-whizz] verses your ‘self professed lack-of’ - more in terms of our confidence levels and mental barriers.
I truly believe that learning something new offers two challenges to us – first of all, the challenge is the task itself....i.e. take producing video in a power point presentation – but secondly, is the challenge of our own self confidence in our ability to learn the new thing; i.e. video in a power point is technology/computers=I don’t get it= it terrifies me=I can’t do it! I maintain that the first challenge is always wholly achievable - but it can only be achieved if the second challenge is conquered. The difference between you and me [in terms of technological ability] is not in intellectual ability/technological skill/natural flare for computer wizardry..... it’s simply because I have conquered the second challenge .....and don’t be deluded into thinking it’s pips easy for me all the time...there have been occasions last year [ask Brian!] when I had techno problems with power points that took me days to sort out.....I think my point was put into practice last year.....when I did the session on video in power point. By calmly showing whoever wanted to listen that actually this is no big deal.......you were all making videos and joining blogs/FB! You had overcome challenge number 2 and accessed the new learning ......now, going back to lin’s blog entry, I realise that adult learners may indeed be scarred by the negativity of past learning experiences [Ok - not me – but you are right to highlight that some are!] and this adds to the toughness of learning new things – because, they have to believe that they can first...[after perhaps believing for whatever reason for many years that they can’t!] – hence, the role of a good teacher/good peer group/good support network comes in....people who can do a bit of nurturing and esteem building.....and of course – practical hands on – ‘here you go, I’ll show you’ support ...... and if the learner WANTS to succeed – I guarantee – the learner will. I had a great saying on the foot of my email last year......it said......success isn’t always about being the fastest or the cleverest - the one who will win, will be the one who believes they can! Technology is a cultural norm the 21st Century.....with the right support network I am sure that you, just like me, will embrace it......you just have to believe that you can [ and the fact that you blog/FB etc proves it!]. One last note – totally agree about the importance of books as well......I am a very big reader.....but how great is it...to take the knowledge you have gained from a book and discuss/debate/collaborate with others who have read that book too....and thus extend your learning without limits! Limitless Learning.....it’s a bit like recycling.....the possibilities are endless!!! Ha ha...