learning as a process

Ten minutes into a course and it made me want to write things down – that has to be a good sign, right ? I just watched the first video for the first week in ‘connectivism and learning’ by Stephen Downes – this first one was called learning as process.
He started by saying ‘have you thought about how you learn ?’ and I thought ‘oh yes, exactly what I need, because I’m spending about 75% of my waking hours right now trying to create self study materials of areas that I have delivered in a face to face versions for years, trying to (a) make the learning step still one they have to make (I don’t want to be just telling them things, I want them to do something and have that penny drop moment of seeing how it could work) and (b) make it feel interactive now that in this medium I don’t have the option of saying work it out in groups or write your own, compare and argue it out in the moment. And that’s hard.
So he whipped through behaviorism and constructivism (called that as the learners build their own knowledge as opposed to having it dropped in by someone else .. like that image,this is good for firming up things I am vaguely aware of but might be pushed to articulate). Then said learning as process is something we can study – named Garrison’s model as just one example of this. There are four stages … understanding the learner which is straight needs analysis, planning for learning (so having objectives – though he states as body of knowledge or achieving a task, so different perspective there, though perhaps just a matter of wording – you could have functional language learning objectives), third is understanding the learning process, what are the steps – this is what I need, how to break things into clearer steps, while they are still learning (not me delivering knowledge), but then he also talks about what are the best means (worked examples, having a conversation). For these online units it isn’t so much the best means as the best way of using the available means .. but should it be ? maybe I should be experimenting with more means. Then the final step is evaluation.
I don’t know why I’m feeling so pleased it all seemed to match up with what I already know (almost a summary of a Module three assignment) – if we are both in education, should that not be a predictable outcome. But the thing that hit me as I listened was he kept addressing me as ‘you’ … how do you know if you have actually learnt ? what you intended to learn ? and my mind kept sliding from trying to create things so others learn to the learning I’ve done this last week or two e.g. the Moodle upgrades resulting in me learning at speed mostly about how to add functions to roles and how to use html to work round the absence of the editing tools I’m used to. So tasks I needed to complete in the face of getting the teacher experience on the Delta Modules back to where all they had to deal with was the studying, where the technology just worked as opposed to being an obstacle to what is already a demanding course. The other thing I learnt this past week was a whole raft of new words for things in nature because of reading Landmark by Robert Macfarlane, few of which I suspect will stick, so does that count as learning ? But even that concept, that if we can’t describe it / name it, we may stop noticing it .. that is something I will carry with me in the long term and I am glad I now have (apart from it also being a beautiful book and making me want to read three more), but I didn’t know I wanted to know that. But both of those things feel like learning and neither fits well with the video the learning process (or the way I try to get my teachers to learn in Modules, though I do try and offer them the opportunities of learning for the love of it, for the exploration of it and also learning to solve an immediate problem, in among the more direct ‘if you want to achieve this qualification in the fastest possible way then you need to take at least these steps in this order’ and only once you have the security of the latter can you afford the indulgence of exploring or achieve the access to things that help to solve practical problems. So perhaps it is not a dichotomy between what I’m trying to get others to do and what I’m actually doing. But if it is not where are my ordered learning goals ? Is it ok that the learning will just happen as I react proactively to tasks.
I did like that remark about ‘not only do you need to have the right body of content in your mind, but also the right attitude to what can be seen as problems’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s