I have to say I certainly learned a great deal more than I expected. My path to teaching/higher ed has certainly been non-traditional. And that seems to fit with this class, as we have been learning about how to teach material effectively to adult learners, many of which are non-traditional students, or people who are simply wanting to go back to school and improve themselves or better equip themselves with new knowledge or skills.
That is exactly how it has been for me. I fell into the role of academic advising and teaching by chance, without much formal training. If anything much of what I did, I learned on the job or with the help of great mentors. And it is only now, once I have become more established in my position and realizing that in order for me to be able to advance within my career or even find similar jobs but outside the “world of higher ed”. That it was going to take for me to learn even more about how to be a more effective teacher and in particularly an effective teacher amongst adult learners. Because whether I decide to continue to teach in a college setting or move to a corporate position, adult learners will always be my audience.
With all that said, I had a great deal of fun along with learning about adult learning theories. One of the main things I realized, was that without knowing it, and only having dived into the practice of teaching without the theoretical knowledge, is that much of what I was doing of planning, lined up with many of the theories we learned about in this course. And then having taking this course and dived deeper into the various adult learning theories, it made me reflect on my teaching experiences and helped me realize how i can make improvements in my course, or moving on and now working with a different population of adult learners (nursing students and working nurses going back to school) how to even develop better teaching and small group/one-on-one counseling techniques.
I think the most impactful theories that I learned was certainly TPACK. Being able to see how the teaching knowledge along with content, and how to best then apply technology in how to best deliver the knowledge to the students was great. It seems sometimes that when new technology comes out that many educators want to simply jump on the bandwagon and try to use it right away in their teachings. When in many cases it’s not about using the latest tech, but rather finding the right tech that works best for your content. A big takeaway from this course for me at least was to look at the course one is developing from various angles first, then to figure out which tools (in terms of technology) would then be best to use to deliver the material in the most effective way.
By looking at the course from various angles; Im talking about seeing it from the learner’s as well as instructor’s point of view. I think seeing it from the learner’s POV is very useful, as it’s important to realize what are the main objectives you as the instructor want your students to learn, and then to consider what ways ( in terms of research, readings, blogs or write-ups) would be best to help the learner achieve their learning objectives, and what would be a reasonable amount of time be in order to learn the material and apply it to an assignment. Many online courses are asynchronous, which many interpret as “on your own time” or at one’s own pace. However, it’s important for students to make time and be willing to put in extra effort. I know that this is something I came to realize myself having been a learner this summer. It’s easy to assume that an online course will be easy, as long as you meet deadlines. However, the amount of work that is needed to both complete readings and do assignments does take much more time than one initially expects. Therefore it is crucial that instructors make it clear what the course expectations are and that learners utilize their time during the week wisely.
In the end, this course was very eye opening in the world of online learning, and that it is not a fad, but here to stay. Online learning is being utilized more and more; and not just at the university/college level. K-12 programs are starting to implement online learning modules, Colleges will always have a need as enrollments increase, but physical classroom space can’t keep up. And of course in the working world, as adults such as those of us in this course, will have a desire to continue to learn for either self-improvement or career development purposes.