Reflections on Training and Education (or why I’m doing an MEd in Digital Technology)

It seems as though I’ve been involved in some form of training and/or teaching for as long as I can remember. It seems equally as long that I’ve been a student. Even as an adult, I’ve always been connected to some form of formal or informal learning. From all of these years of being on both ends of learning, one thing has become particularly clear to me – there is no such thing as “one way” of approaching teaching or learning, especially in the area of adult education.

As technology evolves and our world changes and becomes increasingly interconnected on social, economic and political levels, the way we, as adults, approach and interact with our world has changed. While it’s doubtful that many would disagree with my previous statement, when it comes to the world of adult learning, however, it’s as if we are still very much back in the dark ages. As a learning consultant who has worked for small and large companies with anywhere from two to several hundred employed in some part of learning and performance, it strikes me on a daily basis just how little learning and training strategy has changed to reflect this new context in the workplace.

While reading Argyris’ (1991) , Teaching Smart People How to Learn, I found the commentary by Tsoukas at the end of the paper describing the “knowledge-intensive workplace” ( p.15), really sum up the change we’re experiencing. His discussion reminds me of Richard Florida’s research on our transformation to a knowledge economy and the subsequent creation of a “creative class”.It’s because of these changes in the economy, technology and workplace that I’m back in school, again. The first adult education course that I took was close to twenty years ago when I was a TA for my MA – this was also around the time that I received my first email account and taste of a very rudimentary internet.

While I’ve continued to study adult learning in a number of different environments, and from a variety of perspectives, such as technology, theory, and curriculum, I can honestly say that not one of the courses I’ve taken has really attempted to bring it all together – to really explore how technology has changed the way we, as adults, learn.

There must be value in reexamining learning theories in the context of this new world. Nothing I’ve studied formally prior to this grad program seemed to bridge the gap between adult learning and technology, which is why I decided to take the series of adult education courses in the MEd program at UOIT. While I read on this topic, attend conferences and use my own Personal Learning Environment (PLE ) to try and connect my own dots, for my own professional development, I want to study this formally – I want the opportunity to really break down the topic to improve my base of knowledge, and ultimately to improve my professional practice.

Having the benefit of some experience, my expectations are that my foray back into adult education studies will be more meaningful and allow me the luxury of doing what is essential to learning for Russell (2005) and Argyris (1991) – reflect.

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