Keep Learning

Standard

8700093610_0c8cbddf19_z

Photo Credit: Ann Davis 773, flikr

I’ve had a super time the past couple of days scouring the internet for free online classes or courses and have been pleasantly surprised. I’ve found everything from professional to personal offerings as well as mini courses, more in-depth courses, and even pathways to certification. Of course you pay for some of the more popular and in-depth offerings but many of the fees are reasonable.

I discovered that there are many self-paced options as well as facilitator- or instructor-led courses which take place at specific times throughout the year. I spent time this morning engaging in a few of the short, introductory, self-paced materials and not only have I learned about some things of interest, but the experience has sparked some ideas and creativity to put toward other projects.

For years, I’ve used YouTube as a resource for learning about new things or how to do things I’m interested in or need help with so I can finish a household chore or task at work. Needless to say, I’ve been on board with anytime, anywhere, any pace learning for my professional (and personal) learning needs for a while so this search for more free learning opportunities is a natural progression for me.

These days, my search goes beyond YouTube because I’m trying to determine whether or not to pursue formal learning by working on another degree. And, I need to make sure it’s the right field to pursue not only for the short term but also for any long-term plans after retirement. I have a BS, Master’s certificate and Master’s degree so, to be honest, I keep wondering whether or not I want to spend time and money for another formal education experience. I hope that by utilizing all of the free resources available through the web I can determine which route to take — formal education with a degree or informal learning with certification and badging options.

Based on this new information, I’m leaning toward developing my own learning plan and acquiring or developing skills that will help me to do work that I love and give me more options professionally. The trick is to have not only the motivation but the commitment to complete the learning plan and demonstrate proficiency. This leads me to wonder whether or not I could create a plan using the professional growth format I’ve used in this portfolio. Of course, it would need to be expanded, but the great thing about doing this would be the connection to and improvement of my portfolio pieces and blog. All of these components could work toward showcasing my learning and abilities.  Hmmm…. something to keep pondering. 🙂

I am anxious to participate in some of the live courses too so I can build relationships with instructors and fellow participants, but I plan to use the self-paced resources first. I’ll return to this subject in a future post(s) to update you on my decisions about which learning route I will take to expand my skills as well as my thoughts on my online learning experiences with these new resources I’ve found. I’ll also expand the list of course providers as I discover more options.

If you are looking for informal ways to learn and like self-paced and on-demand learning opportunities, take a look at the following sites.*

Coursera

edX

Udemy

Udacity

*I’m also looking at possible courses and learning paths on Lynda.com which is a fee-based service, but you can gain free access through some public libraries.  Check with your local public library, or surrounding county libraries that collaborate with your library, to see if they have a subscription that you can access.

Please leave your comments and tell me what you think about online learning, self-paced modules, free internet courses or designing your own learning plan. Thanks!

No More Dumping

Standard

For the last seven months or so, I’ve been examining learning designs I’ve used for face-to-face and online professional learning (PL) experiences in the past. As I read blog posts and articles from Cathy Moore and books like Designing for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen, I see how I’ve been guilty of dumping all over my participants. The information dump phenomenon goes by many names… sit and get, drive by and spray and pray. Although  I see a progression in the right direction on many of my latest PL designs, my goal is to really let DOING instead of KNOWING drive my design choices. I want to also incorporate the idea of learner choice into the equation. Let me emphasize here that I’ve always been an advocate of learner choice and I’ve done so by providing multiply options for participants to choose which activity to complete. BUT, the problem in my design has always been in providing the information first (presentation) and then allowing time for learners to take action (do something). Sticking to such a linear progression keeps me from being able to differentiate for varying learner abilities.

Instead of marching through content in an information –> activity, information –> activity, information –> activity type way, I’ve learned how to provide a problem-based scenario in which the learner creates a solution. Now here’s the choice part. Participants are faced with the problem first but information they may need is provided and they can access it if they need it. This way, you’re not boring anyone who already knows the content but needs practice applying solutions using that content. And, anyone who needs information first before they begin to create a solution can access the information they need so that learning looks less like information –> activity and more like this.

Photo Credit: Cathy Moore – Action Mapping

Based on what I’ve learned, I was able to meet one of my professional growth goals by redesigning a mini-lesson that I co-created during the Kentucky Professional Learning Academy. Take a look at Design 1 and then Design 2 which incorporates scenario-based learning using action mapping and learner choice strategies. What do you think? Be a critical friend and leave a comment.