Monday, September 1, 2008

Adult Learning and Global Change

My previous Masters degree was a collaborative online program called Adult Learning and Global Change. The classes were shared between 4 different universities: Linkoping Universitet (Sweden), University of West Cape (South Africa), University of Technology Sydney, and University of British Columbia (Canada). This truely global program made for some interesting challenges such as time differences and technological barriers. For instance, I was in China during the 1st year of the program and could not reach certain websites due to government restrictions, or how group work was on a 12-20 hour time gap working with both 'yesterday' and 'today' from our local perspectives.

Here is an interesting blog from a former student

In the end, I gained tremendous experience with online learning, made lots of international connections (whom I have never met face to face), and learned that 'global learning' is a concept so new that its difficult for current learning theory to fully explain how it transpires.

To give readers here a further idea into what I learned I will paste the copy of my final porfolio project, which encompasses what ALGC has done for me.

Understanding the Adult Learning and Global Change experience

The Adult Learning and Global Change (ALGC) Masters Degree program is a unique educational experience utilizing online education technology to overcome the challenges of a global learning experience. The program supersedes borders, politics, and cultures in learning, creates an education experience immersed in social justice, and unifies adult learning practitioners. To summarize what the course work has provided for me this short introduction presents several key points expressing how the ALGC experience shaped my career and professional outlook in adult education. While reading these points, please consider that each statement and description contains a concentrated representation of my experience of over two years of online collaboration, academic writing, and analysis of literature related to adult education within a global perspective.

ALGC provided an extensive theoretical understanding in adult education within a modern global and local perspective

The ALGC program provided the language, background, and modern interpretation of adult education theory. In experiencing and interpreting adult learning from the academic perspective combined with both global and local analysis a notion of learner-centered education began to develop within my teaching experience. As I familiarized myself with learning theories such as Popular Education, and Community of Practice, I developed an understanding of how the local and global are able to merge in an equitable manner. Therefore, the paramount importance of the ALGC program was the establishment of a theoretical understanding of global adult education, which I interpreted and understood through academic work in re-evaluating the concept of global civil society from a parallel global and local perspective.

Immersion within the ALGC program established the global learning practitioner identity

Within the ALGC program, the concept of ‘global learning’ began to emerge through my understanding of the complexities involved in collaborating with different cultures. This involved my experience an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in China in learning to understand how local learners in China approach English language learning and what my role as a foreign teacher meant in their learning dynamic. Through the interpretation of my experience, I was able to see myself as more than a teacher, but as a cultural ambassador. Combing this international teaching experience with the ALGC learning experience, I saw a new career identity emerging within the ‘teacher’ identity. Therefore, the notion of learning practitioner and then global learning practitioner became the appropriate identity for my career as an international educator. In this role, my duties involve more than merely language education, but also involve fostering global understanding within the interactions of my students.

ALGC provided an understanding of the value of critical learning within global and local learning perspectives

Involved in the understanding and application of critical learning, students are engaged with local and global issues that affect their political and economic status. Therefore, they begin to learn not only the skills needed for work, but also the understanding of their learning circumstances from both the global and local perspectives. Through the introduction of Popular Education, the ALGC program provided me with the critical lens to approach learning and knowledge creation within a non-prescriptive sense encouraging reinterpretation of learning theories including Popular Education itself to meet local education needs appropriately. Through this understanding, I was able to establish a critical outlook on Popular Education and interpret it within the perspective of volunteer literacy educator training, which became the theme throughout my academic writing cumulating into my final Masters Thesis.

AGLC established interpretation of my work experience involving global understanding of local issues

When I first began the program, I had accumulated three years teaching experience in China. Living and working in China was challenging, but the ALGC program provided the means for a positive critical interpretation of the Chinese education system. As ALGC introduced concepts of adult learning from theoretical and global perspectives, I was able to analyze my Chinese work and learning experience based on conversations with my classmates on their local interpretation of adult learning perspectives and on the readings from the coursework. As I concluded my teaching stint in China, I was able to write an analysis report on the future of adult education in China utilizing knowledge gained from ALGC curriculum.

ALGC enhanced my understanding of the concept of learner ownership within an individual’s education practice

Early in the program, thoughts on student-centered learning first established through my undergraduate coursework began to develop the concept of learner ownership. Much of this was because I used student-centered learning in my teaching work. However, through interaction with the AGLC program, the concept of learner ownership had begun to articulate my experience. The concept of learner ownership eventually evolved into understanding learner identity within the education process. Much of this understanding resulted from reading and applying the Community of Practice learning theory. More specifically however, as I observed group dynamics within both my classroom and the AGLC classes, I saw how the periphery-participant dynamic expressed how particular learners related to classroom knowledge. This knowledge is especially useful in understanding how adult education should consider the learner within a socially just outlook.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin, I am thinking of doing this program with UBC. I just finishing my Undergrad in Linguistics with a minor in Political Science. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions I had about its format from a former student's point of view. Like how much time did you have to devote per day?(Also the blog you link to is no longer there)
Thanks so much for the help!!

Anonymous said...

I am interested in studying this course. Sounds quite interesting.

Joce said...

I'm also very interested in this program. Might I be able to contact you for some further information? Thanks!