Sunday, May 27, 2012

Program Planning for Adult Education - my Values and Beliefs

I just recently enrolled in a Program Planning course in Adult Education and it dawned on me that what I am learning (in the context of my immediate past job), is really how to manage the delivery of courses.

Immediately, the first assignment was to examine ourselves and our belief system regarding Adult Education. The value of this activity really lies in recognizing our values so that we will be consistent in our planning. It is also important to recognize and codify these values so that intentional biases maybe designed into the the program.

Here are my values and beliefs regarding Adult Education:

These views are based mainly on my personal experiences and observations of my classmates as I consider myself a “professional adult learner,” having obtained some of my degrees as an adult.
1. Adult learners are highly motivated. They will be actively seeking information.
Maybe due to need or curiosity, adult learners are motivated to pursue learning in a particular field. They will enrol in classes that are suitable and useful. They will also actively look for information online and through the course. There should be a ready source of information, either within the learning management systems or a list of easy references for course materials.
2. Adult learners are mature learners. They know what they want to learn.
Adult learners will perform sufficient background research on the areas that they want/need to learn and will look for courses that meet these needs. They will look at the courses and contents; they know that they want to learn.  Marketing materials should be geared towards explaining the course contents but also the manner of delivery of the courses as well the course requirements.
By the time the adult learner has approached the institution, he or she would have had sufficient information that tells them that the courses will provide them with the learning that they require.  As a program planner, the more important information to supply should address the general requirements and manner of course delivery as these are typical specific concerns that pertains to manageability of the course. Will the course require face-to-face? Do I need to travel far and be physically present for some modules? Can I learn online? Will I need to write essay or answer quizzes or do I need to form groups with my classmates (what if our busy schedules or physical location make it impossible to form groups?). These are some of the important information that need to be addressed.
3. Adult learners are busy with other things. They learn at their own time.
Most adult learners are both working and raising families. They are busy with a multitude of demands. It is the minority who are given the protected time to keep on learning. As such, there should be options regarding attendance and styles. As item #2 describes that information on course deliveries should be provided, in terms of actual implementation, there should be a bias towards asynchronous learning. Synchronous sessions should be focused on clarifications and social support (from the co-learners).
4. Adult learners are diverse. They have different backgrounds and different learning styles.
In adult education, the enrolees are typical people who want to learn a particular skill set. It is possible that only the course/module is the only similarity between these people.
Another important aspect of learning is the assessment. There should be options, choices or if not possible, a highly diverse set of assessments. Different people prefer different methods of assessment. Thus any course geared for the adults’ population should have, among others, a few different ways of assessments.
5. Adult learners usually support themselves. They seek value for money.
Adult learners are more conscious of value. They are spending hard-earned money to learn. As a consequence, it should be expected that they have chosen the course that they are enrolled in well. They are autonomous, conscientious and self-driven. They should be briefed on the expectations as well as performance. They will seek their own learning and will try to maximize the occasion for learning. They will ask questions and would demand answers.  If some learners are unable to match the coordinator’s expectation (i.e. unable to submit on time, little contribution to the discussions, etc.) there might be obstacles that need investigation/follow-up with learner as this is inconsistent with the belief that they are value seekers. The coordinator should plan that questions are anticipated and that answers are readily available.
6. Adult learners have large prior industry (or even seemingly unrelated) knowledge and experience. They are valuable resources for learning.
Most of the adult learners enrol in formal learning to improve on their job performance, hence they are already within the industry; or they are interested in joining the industry. As such, they have tremendous amount of prior/related knowledge and are valuable resources in the class. The program should be designed that there are several avenues for interaction between students, either in classrooms, or virtual classrooms, discussion boards, email groups or social network. There should be plenty of occasions for the students to share their views and experiences.
Table 1. Summary of Beliefs and Values
Belief and Values
Impact on Program Planning
Adult learners are highly motivated:
They will be actively seeking information.
There should be sufficient information available regarding the course and the course contents.
Adult learners are mature learners:
They know what they want to learn .
Adult learners have done sufficient background research on the course and contents; they know that they want to learn it. Marketing materials should be geared towards explaining the delivery and the requirements.
Adult learners are busy with other things:
They learn at their own time.
There should be a bias towards asynchronous learning and synchronous sessions should be focused on clarifications and social support (from the co-learners).
Adult learners are diverse:
They have different backgrounds and different learning styles.
There should be diverse delivery methods and equally diverse assessment tools.
Adult learners usually pay for their own fees:
They choose their courses well, and seek value for money.
Adult learners are more conscious of value. They are spending hard-earned money to learn. They are autonomous, conscientious and self-driven. They should be briefed on the expectations as well as performance. They will seek their own learning and will try to maximize the occasion for learning.
Adult learners have large prior industry (or even seemingly unrelated) knowledge and experience:
They are valuable resources of learning.
The program should be designed that there are several avenues for interaction between students, either in classrooms, or virtual classrooms, discussion boards, email groups or social network. There should be plenty of occasions for the students to share their views and experiences.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Connectivism, the course. A review. (#CCK12)

Connectivism as espoused by Siemens and Downes is a theory of learning, and I quote Siemens (2005): "Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing." 

Although I agree that the internet has become the source of learning materials and tools, and that its rapid ability to evolve has caused the nebulosity of the environment. I disagree with the venue for the learning. I do not agree that actionable knowledge can reside outside of the living organism as of yet. I believe that connectivism and learning to navigate the internet and the connections and the networks, is a skill necessary for learning. But it does not adequately explain how we learn. But does this diminish the importance of connectivism? I say, not at all. 

Content and Delivery

Throughout the course, there were various aspects of the idea (or for the purposes of this review, the "theory") that were presented. Discussed were the theory and its boundaries, networks, pedagogical systems and its impact on teaching, learning environments, openness, etc (Connectivism, on Wikispaces, 2012). As a course, it has successfully mapped the most significant components of an idea that is difficult to grasp. 

The delivery of the course is unique and challenging, and should I say, probably not for the uninitiated. It is sophisticated as it requires familiarity with many traditional e-learning tools as well as the unusual ones. LMS is seldom used, while wikispaces is the repository of information. Discussion in the class happens in elluminate, while contributions are in the form of blogs and diigo, informal grouping is through google groups. Homeworks consists of an essay, a virtual mind map and  an out-of-the-box presentation. 

my Pecha Kucha for Connectivism
My final project is a PechaKucha (20slides/20 second per slide system) that reviews some of the salient features of the course but I have yet to find way to upload it as a flash. But it is found in this Media Fire site:

Hope you get to take time out to play this.


Simens G. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. 2005. as viewed at on 15 April 2012

Downes S, Siemens G. Connectivism on Wikispaces. 2012. as viewed at on 15 April 2012.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Connectivism: how it works in my mind... (#CCK12)

In the beginning, I knew very little of the course in Connectivism except for the fact that it is indeed unusual. I was expecting that this would be a glimpse of the way learners of the future will learn.

In my attempt to organize the course in my mind, I drew this concept map.

It starts with the learner as a little RED square in one corner (very much in-the-box :). I am trying to show the course as a journey from one corner to the opposite, where the learner ends up as an empowered, and well-rounded (literally) GREEN circle. There are two main dimensions by which I mapped the concept: one was the virtual and technological resources that was put in the process, in the top horizontal YELLOW grid at the top. The elements moving from left to right shows intensity of the technological and virtual resources: the net pedagogy and the group of net-based software/applications/programs that contribute to the technological "savviness" of the learner. On the other grid, I am trying to demonstrate another dimension to the course which is openness in terms of both hardware as well as the reach of the applications (in my experience: blog->LMS/tweet/diigo->elluminate->google+). Thus pedagogy, learner driven multidisciplinary research, the devices and the networks all work hand-in-hand to create an open and liberal minded learner.

I grouped some of the elements by colors, the PURPLE boxes are more leaning towards intellectual, philosophical, pedagogical contribution to the process, such as research, net pedagogy and informational literacy. The ones in BROWN are mainly hardware that creates the physical connection and openness such as connective and mobile devices, and unbridled networks. The PINK group is a collection of some (but not all) of the learnware that we use in the course, as mentioned above, as arranged according to my perceived reach.

All of these elements interact in the journey mentioned in the GREEN bubble as the learner's connectiveness, and as indicated by the thick GREEN line, as the learner (me) journeyed through the course.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Connectivism and the network of power and counterpower in education (#CCK12)

From the dawn of humankind, inequality has existed. There are people who are better at some things and there are people who are worse at some things. As a corollary, a person can be good in some things and worse in other things. Fundamentally, it is how important the activity that one is good at that determines a person's social ranking i.e. a good hunter during the prehistoric era will rank higher in rank, whereas at present time, a person who is good at hunting may not be as ranked highly as someone who is good writing.

What happens then is that for every era, a particular activity is more important than others, and people who are good at these activities are the ones who are invested with power. History is littered with stories of the dominant social classes such as the landowners during the agricultural era, the factory owners during the industrial age, and now, the drivers of the internet are the richest group of men. There is always a dominant class, and a dominated class.

According to Manuel Castells, "Whoever has power determines the rules of the institutions..." He discusses various interrelated concepts such as
a. networks in power, b. network power c. networked power and d. network making power.

He believes that there are networks in power that control the fortunes of those that are in the network and even those outside it. In this particular concept then, those who are in the network that control information, control those within and outside of the network when it comes to traffic of information. What is disturbing in this concept is that in order to maintain power, those within the network will keep those outside the network out.

Network power on the other hand refers to the implementation of standards to all its members and those that want to be a member.

Networked power  is the concept wherein some members have power over others within the network. It can be coercive power or persuasive power. They always act in concert, intimidating members of the network to act according to the will of those holding the power. The persuasive power is always more influential than coercive.

Network making power is the most crucial form of power, as it has the ability to the network to form networks and to program and reprogram  the network so that it will always continue to serve the interests of those who make the network.

Using Castell's construct, I would like to explore the seat of power in education and the effect of connectivism on this network power of education. Modern education is now, more than ever enshrined within networks. Students use the internet freely, within the classroom and outside. They learn from their teachers but more so from the internet. Think Connectivism.

Thus, it is very important to look at the the powers that exist within this sector and the present educational environment of our students.

The networks in power in many traditional universities still exist to separate the academics from the outside world. The traditions are very much present to segregate those that are within, those that are enrolled, versus those outsiders who do not belong. Even within the universities, there are people who make the rules and there are members of the networks that follow. The regents make the rules, while the full professors are more powerful than the associate and assistant professors, and all the academics are more powerful than the lay employees and the students.

The network power of the universities is very much represented by the degrees and certificates that the students earn, marking them of sufficient standards. But do these certificates really reflect the amount and depth of learning?

How about the network making power within the universities? Many universities subscribe to and are now currently reliant on networks to maintain their standing. The Ivy League is one of the oldest among these networks. All universities of repute have to be members of some body that determine the minimum required standard for each member. They program and reprogram the necessary requirements for each member universities, from the required per capita bandwidth available to the students, to the impact factor of the publications that are required to maintain standing within the network.

How then does the internet affect this network? The internet in the beginning held so much promise to be the counterpower to this exclusive clubs of knowledge. The internet has threatened the bastions of education by seemingly able to democratize the knowledge. Not only do we make information available to everyone with the internet connection, but, we allow the community to compile their own knowledge. There is Wikipedia and all the wikis. Even this blog is part of the community driven knowledge formation. Or is it? Would I have been writing this blog had I not been enrolled in a module on connectivism? That is for another blog post to answer.

In Castell's own words, "Whenever there is domination, there is always resistance to domination. This is the only general law of humankind." Does the internet represent this resistance? There are many characteristics of the internet that seems to fit the description. In social networks, despite the boundary between members and non-members, the most successful networks are those that invite people in. Because the bigger the membership of the network, the more effective it becomes. This is opposite of traditional members where network power is derived from excluding others.

In networked power, the standards seemingly started from top down. There are specific ways to communicate, there are protocols and languages that you have to learn i.e. javascript, internet protocols and routing; intricate IP addresses. But the development of the internet is seemingly inclusive, that now, with the new interfaces, we do not need to learn those languages, the internet has learned to speak the common human language. The more successful websites and software are those that are intuitive. Now, there are devices that do not even need the written language, there are devices that follow the voice command, and some even reply in a human-like fashion (although AI may not yet exist).

So does the internet really represent the counterpower? Does connectivism as an educational landscape represent the breakdown of the traditional universities and schools?

Allow me to explore some counterarguments. The internet is fantastically democratic, yes. Internet stats website estimates that at the end of 2011, there are about 2.27 billion internet users in the world out of a population of 6.9 billion people. By sheer number, one would think that it is inclusive, right?

Well, if we use the network theory of power to look at the internet, we are in for some surprises.

The internet may have the billions of users, but in reality, the rules are not made by them. There are very few players that can influence the system. They are our internet giants, much similar to those holders of power in the different stages of development. For instance, Google (of the "do no evil" fame), controls the search engine market at 80% of the global market. Microsoft's Internet explorer controls 54% of the browser market for desktops, whereas Safari controls 61% of the tablet/mobile browser market.Bill Gates' Microsoft is by far the most dominant of the operating system's share at 92%, while iOS controls that mobile/tablet operating systems at 62%. In terms of social media marketing, Facebook may generate a measly 0.71% referral rate but that is by far the most powerful, as evidenced by second placer you tube at 0.05% referral rate. (All stats in this paragraph are taken from Net Market Share,

Well, firstly, all of these companies that are dominant are in the US, and yet North America (not just the US) has only 12% of the internet users. It clearly demonstrates networked power wherein, certain members of the network can exert power over the rest of the members of the network. They also control the standards and protocols for the rest of the users, simply because of their dominant market positions. If you want to be searched, you have to be visible to Google. If you want market referrals, then you have to play by FB rules. If you want to be seen clearly in the internet, then your website has to be optimized for internet explorer. These are clearly characteristics of network power.

And among the greatest fears of competition commissions around the world is the monopoly that exists within these segments of the virtual world. Clearly, networks in power are trying very hard to keep new players at bay, as well as terminate the competition or expand market services either through bundling (think Internet Explorer and Windows OS), through buy outs (think Skype and Pay Pal being bought by e-Bay) or through exclusive distribution (think Apple products and iOS and Safari).

What is even more interesting is that these companies have the network making power. They can actually persuade us to see and read, watch and view specific sites within the web. And by default, they can make things invisible to us by design. Governments have realized this power and some have exercised coercive powers over these companies for them in turn to "persuade" us of their versions of the truth. Imagine China and the internet censorship, and selective programming. In this instances, does the internet collude with the coercive powers that it is suppose to subvert?

It is a fact of life that the revolutionaries, when they succeed, become enshrined in power and will in an unavoidable twist of fate (as Castell has put out), generate a counterpower, a resistance. Has the internet, once the hope for democratizing education (and continues to be a source of hope), already transiting as the mainstream, and has been suffering from the corruption of the power networks? Is it therefore about to generate an opposition? What will this form of countermovement be?

I cannot wait to find out...


Castells M. Network Theories of Power. 2010. University of Southern California. As viewed on on 31 March 2012.

Internet World Stats. Internet Users Statistics. Miniwatts Marketing Group. 2011. As viewed on on 01 April 2012.

Net Market Share. Various market share data. 2012. As viewed on on 01 April 2012.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Vox populi, vox Dei (#CCK12)

The Commission of Election of the Republic of the Philippines has a curious motto, "Vox populi, vox Dei." It seems that they are requiring or even demanding for the populace to respect the results of any conducted elections as the voice of the people and seemingly by an obscure transitive property, the voice of God. In short, the motto is claiming that the power of the crowd is a divine manifestation. Where lies power and authority in this connected world?

This motto is actually an old proverb, the origins of which are contentious. But by the by, it seems that it is taking on newer meaning and even more modern definition. "The voice of the people is the voice of God" If this were true, then the internet, and the myriad of unfettered and uncensored connection worldwide, can really express the voice of the people (which by the proverb, is the voiceof God). My interest in the proverb lies not in discovering what God wants, but what the crowd wants and how the internet is giving a quick and loud voice to the people.

There are people who seems subscribed to the wisdom of the crowd, whereas others are wary of the crowd. In a seeming warning about people who use the word of the people as reference to what God wants (or what is seemingly right), the English scholar and ecclesiastic, Alcuin (798 AD) wrote a in a letter to Charlemagne that "And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness."

Vox Populi, a paper by Sir Francis Galton in Nature, in 1907, using a "one vote, one value" system when estimating a weight of a cattle when it is slaughtered and dressed, came up to a fantastic result. "It appears then, in this particular instance, that the vox populi is correct to within 1 per cent. of the real value..." and that "This result is, I think, more creditable to the trustworthiness of a democratic judgement than might have been expected." 

Sir Francis Galton seems to be amazed at the accurate estimation by the cattle enthusiasts who paid 6 pence to provide an accurate estimate of the results. My first question now lies in who the voters are. In Sir Francis Galton's case, I believe that there is a filtering that happened. Not any unknowing bystander will vote and pay 6 p for the chance to guess. The event happened in a cattle show for God's sake. Only those with a background and interest in cattle will be there to begin with.

In this age of unprecendented connectiveness, when everyone seems to be expressing an opinion about anything and everything, how do we determine which voice is valid? Is it a true "one vote one value" system, or is it more like Sir Francis's vote where only the votes of those educated and interested in the topic matter?

In the current connective state, many things happen in a blink of an eye...the American Idol (or whatever country's version of the Idol is) is decided on sms and infocomm technology; twitter and the millions of followers can disseminate information (whether it is correct or not is another issue; the facebook likes can determine marketing success or failures; and posting in social media can create the Arab Spring. I remember that the second EDSA uprising in the Philippines was disseminated through text messaging. I do not mean voting for the Miss Photogenic in the Miss Universe contest, as everyone has a standard of beauty. But harking back to the biblical times, remember how a crowd of people voted to release Barabbas and condemn Jesus? There are many things in the world where the correct answer is not by popularity contest - justice being one of them. 

In politics of democratic states, one person is one vote; in corporations, one share is one vote...but however it is, the participants are stakeholders (just like Sir Francis' contestants, where all are preselected to interested in cattle, by virtue of the venue-the cattle show). 

But in the internet, in our myriad of connections, should one person's comment/like/sms/etc... be equal to the rest? In  reality many of them do not even care or are not even stakeholders to the decision at hand, why should we trust their votes? People now get to vote on who is the better person to remain in a camp of artificially stranded people. Where will this lead to. 

[In my next blog, I shall be discussing the issue of access and how it can distort the voting process and the democratization of knowledge.]


Galton F. Vox Populi. Nature. 1907. p450. As seen on: on 22 March 2012. 

Wikipedia. Article on Vox Populi. As seen on: on 22 March 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Personal Learning Network (PLNs) are not simple graphical representations of connections that exists between an individual and his learning environment. Rather, ideally, PLNs are an articulated and much-analyzed interaction between the learner and his environment. It should spell out in simplified form, the elements of his environment that contributes to his development, presumably not just where he gets his information but also what affects his opinions, his point-of-view, and his critical thought.

Trying to map out a PLN is an important learning tool as it forces the individual to spell out, maybe not entirely and exhaustively, but it is a significant step for active learners to identify each contributor to his learning space and to recognize the contribution in both material content and intensity of these elements.

In this particular PLN that I tried to make for myself, I certainly recognize that the internet, and independently of it, news, are very important in shaping my opinions and my learning. Significant elements of the internet are Google, my first stop to learning about my environment, Wikipedia, and my most favorite social media tool currently, Facebook. As this PLN shows, I connect to friends and family mainly though facebook, through the phone (sms or voice) or through the computer (again either email, internet telephony or instant messengers).

I have also began to realize, with the help of this PLN, that my blog and comments made on them (despite being very few) are helpful feedback, either as an encouragement or as a check & balance from assenting and dissenting voices. Either way, comments help me learn.

Without having drawn this simple PLN, I would not have recognized many interactions in my life, both for social learning and academic learning, and I can say that at this age, social learning accounts heavier, and that it knows into another. The school is my world, because the world is my school!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

PLEs and Adult Learning #CCK12

In my previous blog on PLE, I posit that PLEs require a certain level of maturity and discernment in order to be useful. PLEs will only be a web of information sources in the hands of a novice. A more discerning individual can, on his/her own, recognize that connections are not the end-all, but rather, there are levels and layers to these connections; that some are more useful than others, and some are more prominent than others.

In Adult Learning, the audience is usually more mature, but at the same time, they lack the tool to understand the learning landscape, particularly those involving the internet (unlike that of the digital natives). This is when PLEs become a very important tool for them to map their resources of learning - be they virtual resources or physical ones.

I suppose that my argument here is that teaching Adult Learners (and in most cases, discerning young ones too) to reflect on their learning landscape through imaging their own individual PLE and writing it down is a very powerful tool for learning. It empowers the adult learner as they begin to navigate all the available learning resources at their disposal.