Journal Entries -Trends and Roles

Research Topic: Online Education for Adults

  1. New Insights on the roles adult educators plays while delivering courses online:

Both in pedagogy and in andragogy, instructional or learning designs play a vital role in facilitating learning. In andragogy, students take a more active and central role in the learning process. However, educators still make a significant contribution in creating and corresponding effective and efficient instructional strategies, design, tools and techniques that facilitates adult learning. Building a learning conducive environment is one of primary tasks of adult educators. The need to create an appropriate learning environment is even higher for online teaching and learning set ups. Similar to face-to-face modes of educational delivery, successful online adult education distribution models require skilled, committed, dedicated, and creative adult educators.

Internationally, there is a significant movement towards delivering courses online and the primary student segment of these programs are adult learners. However, according to research done by Columbia University, online programs alone have lower success rates than face-to-face models of delivery due to issues such as learners feeling social distance and isolation, technical difficulties, and a lack of student support for online courses. In order to facilitate higher performance amongst students, adult educators take an expanded role to mitigate these impediments.

Depending on the learner’s learning state, adult educators are often required to take on a number of different roles in the course of delivering a lesson online. Some of these roles are new for adult educators and include being: An enthusiastic promoter of learning technologies, a technological tour guide, a constant online presence, a facilitator of the learner’s performance using a variety of technologies, a reflection of the learner’s desire to learn, a manager of the student’s education, and an information control system as to not inundate learners with content.

2.    Trends in online adult education:

The main trends in online education include MOOCs, cloud-based learning platforms, interconnected mobile applications, automated assessments, and the gamification of education. Advancement in computer technologies, internet connectivity, storage capacity, and multi-device interactions has led to course platforms moving into cloud storage software such as Google Drive. This has also led to improved course design software and the automation of courses, along their concomitant assessment mediums.

Massive open online courses show a promising future as they substantially reduce the cost of curriculum development for many developing countries and educational institutions, giving students from underdeveloped and developing countries access to quality educational programs and materials. Many of the trends in online education are driven by lowering delivery costs and increasing user-friendliness. Online delivery of courses has improved, but challenges remain and opportunities exist for further improvement.

3.    Reflection related to blog interactions:

Due to time management and personal discipline challenges, I ended up creating this blog, researching the topics, and presenting the information on my own. This had some limiting effects, such as an increased time investment in sorting out technical issues related to the blog, and structuring the information presentation. Interactions with a partner was not possible, thus social cognitism was limited. However, I researched a number of PID and other student blogs and learned a great deal. Doing this blog was a great kinesthetic learning experience and by exploring other student blogs, I was able to learn that a certain amount of personal uniqueness is required in for the blogger to feel connected to the material.  Creating, writing, and maintaining this blog has been a great learning experience as a mature learner, due to its novelty.