Learning Styles

I am feeling like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders after reviewing the last couple of interviews.  The topic I keyed in on was that of learning styles and the insight provided by the experts interviewed.  They debunked through modern research the lack of evidence to even moderately support the notion of the existence of learning styles.  I first had my doubts in college while studying Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory and having it be linked to the idea of learning styles.  I reflected then as I do now on how I learn and have continued to come to the conclusion that it depends on the content.  Richard Culatta reinforced this while discussing the role of technology with the differentiation of instruction.  In paraphrasing what he described, differentiation is a good thing.  Varying your delivery based on the needs of the learner is what we should be striving for.  Differentiation however has NOTHING to do with learning styles but instead has to do with what the best method is for relaying the particular content to the specified learner.  Individualized learning is what I am going to strive for in my lesson designs this year and going forward.  Based on the information I am armed with now I am looking forward to growing into that role.  More to come!

Frustration in approach

After these excellent interviews I have participated in I a seeing a disconnect with the needs and expectations of the bussinness world and what is going on in the classrooms of our children.  I hear from our adult learning experts obout the need for flexibility, adaptability, critical thinking, and networking.  They speak about connecting to global learning networks and using one’s own time for self betterment and improvement.  I like the things being said but I don’t know if the right people are being spoken to.  When I have estabilished in some interview and discussions that I work with K-12 learners I sense a hesitation and have heard an outright reluctance on the part of the interviewee to want to delve into discussion of young learners because of a discomfort or admitted lack of insight.  I will first say that I respect the full disclosure of the discomfort or lack of knoweldge as it presents both the honesty and integrity of the individual to admit where their on weaknesses lie.  At the same time I will admit I am disheartened a bit by the existence of the lack of knowledge or awareness.

I understand there is a significant difference between adult and youth learners but there needs to be a bridge in the understanding of the needs and desired outcomes for both sub-sets. I want the adult learning experts or any in the field for that matter to seem or be less afraid youth learners.  I say this because as a teacher I am tasked with preparing the youth for entrance into the adult world.  I therefore feel I must have an understanding of operating in both worlds.  I have found that after speaking to adult learning experts that many but not all try to distance themselves from the world of youth learning.  I have come to the point of this distancing becoming dangerous because I believe it is breaking the continuity necessary for establishing lifelong learning.  I wish to see more communication between both worlds that would allow for insight into the expectations of both parties.

I arrived at these thoughts because of what I hear going on in regards to learning and development in the adult learner world that I don’t see the young being prepared for.  this being the situation that it is I would like to see through whatever methods possible the gap between the two worlds bridged so that we might stop hearing about youth unprepared for the world they are aspiring to.

Abigail Wheeler Interview

A few takeaways from a recent interview I participated in:

Chunking learning into manageble bits; especially in regards to social media can be a sound approach.  It is also one of the things that can help people process information at a more comfortable level.  It can also make the location of learning more user-friendly.

Crowd sourcing solutions with peer networks can be a highly effective and cost saving measure.

So far in the two interviews I have participated in, I am really seeing ways that the education community can really aid in professional improvement at a fraction of the cost of hiring consultants.  We help each other often without prompting and social media would expand the knowledge pool almost infinitesimally.

An evening with Dr. Bozarth

I participated in my first conference cal this week and came away with a good amount of information but was more inspired than anything to continue on the path of incorporating social media as part of improving my educational skill set.  Dr. Bozarth is a very forthcoming and authentic individual to listen to.  He idea of being a “positive deviant” struck a chord with me to look at what I might be able to do differently than the norm that would enact a positive reaction to my own work ecosystem.  She has a good command of the tools available to all of us on the internet and encourages those that have it in them to use them.  Her best thought about those reluctant to embrace the technological changes is that “twitter is full”  Its about as direct as you can get.  If you wish to use the tools they are there.  If you are unwilling, keep on with your existing ways.  I would tend to agree with Dr. Bozarth in this respect.  No need to criticize and dismiss something you wouldn’t accept in the first place.

Knowledge

The transference of working knowledge within a school structure is fairly fluid or at least that is what I have found in the past 7 years. Instructional methods have been very accessible as long as people are willing to speak to each other. At the base level of the organization knowledge sharing could even be said to be the norm. Once you start to become elevated within the organization the freedom to share and fluidity of information become constrained. In order to gain access to this information the organization centric model is followed where before at essentially the entry level you have a very network oriented structure. In my opinion teaching has really elevated itself and embraced a networked approach because of the needs for constant differentiation and adaptation to populations of learner’s. the administrative sectors seems to remain constrained by the organizational approach. I’m not sure how to explain why this is but the effects are evident in the slow adaptations by school systems to new ideas/technology vs. the individual ability of instructors or content teAms to change and share information. The need for knowledge flexibly at an admin level meets fiduciary roadblocks at many points but they must be removed in my humble opinion to create a more fluid learning environment.

Coordination with others

I have to say that within a school environment, coordinating efforts and ideas can move quite easily as freely as opposed to the digital sharing methods of last week.  Everyone’s’ trust friend “email” has afforded most within the scholastic ecosystem the ability to collaborate with about as much freedom as you can think of.  Email is, has been, and will continue to be the primary method of collaborative communication with others until the school systems embrace other collaborative web-based tools.  historically they have been slow on the implementation of these new methods.  Professionals will adapt accordingly and try to push for quicker adaptation with hopefully promising results.

The main example within my own field of social science instruction that speaks to the network centric approach is that members of my department assist in making connections with members of other departments in other schools to share instructional strategies, tools, and even lesson modules with each other.  the goal of this sharing is to reduce the burden on individual instructional planning and make it a more collaborative effort.  It is not quite delivery in 1000 different places, but could be even several dozen.  even if that is the case, it speaks to me on the networking ability within the realm of education.

Oganization vs. Network

Having worked in public education in three school systems in the past 8 years i have seen the desire to create these open networks but in an environment that is increasingly trying to centralize.  We all should recognize that the nature of public education has become increasingly Organizationcentric.  There has been for the past thirteen years efforts to create a oneness within education so as to strive for numerical achievement above all else.  Without trying to sound the anti-education reform horn I will say that the push to centralize has cause teachers to jump into networks on their own to help create, distribute, and collaborate to try and make learning interesting in an increasingly standardised environment.  The use of youtube clips, blog posts, and image searches have become integral within classroom instruction.  However, with my most recent position I have seen a great deal of effort to restrict teacher access to material while in the workplace.  Any site deamed a blog/wiki, image searches, and streaming are heaviely limited as they would be for the students.  I have heard explanations that these pages are unreliable, slanderous, or even potential avenues for bullyying.  The response to any of these issues has been to ban acess and cause the person who wants to use them to perform work at home.  Recently there has been a collaborative effort between administrative groups and teachers to explore viable options for access to network tools in the workplace by both teachers and students.  The school system opperates a facebook page that cannot be accessed in the schools on school computers unless you have administrate privilege.  It is a paradox that a change is being discussed for.   Many of those in charge has seen the benefits to these tools as we have in our brief time together.  The use of twitter and youtube have been identified by my own supervisor as tools he would like to see integrated.  He is not sold on Wikipedia but I will certainly recommend Shirky‘s book to hopefully swing his thoughts.  Within the next year or two i hope to see us move to a more network friendly model but in the current environment I still see us holing onto the organization-centricmodel that has been a hallmark of the modern education system.