Eduard C. Lindeman: a Father of Adult Education

Is adult education the formal classes hosted by institutions of higher education and for-profit training centers? Or is it the other side where informal training experiences help advance knowledge and cognitive understanding in a particular subject matter?

Eduard C. Lindeman was an early contributor to the study of adult learning and his reflections and teachings continue to provide a foundation for scholarly discourse within the field of adult education.

Lindeman (1926) seems to support both avenues of adult education in his broad definition. He states:

“If we are to make the most effective use of whatever quantity of intelligence is available, we shall need to grant the right of each personality to rise to its own level. This means that increased inventiveness will be required to discover the kind of education which will most effectively meet the needs of varying capacities. Formal educational discipline cannot be accepted as the criterion for ability to learn” (Lindeman, 1926, pg. 18).

Lindeman (1926) was right when he said that intelligence is an individualistic concept. And to achieve each persons’ actualization of intelligence, both formal and informal educational techniques are needed. For instance, the leader of a Girl Scout troop, with no formal education, can achieve a high level of status, power, knowledge, and intelligence through informal training techniques targeted towards areas related to fostering achievement and leadership in youth. This example supports Lindeman’s concept that formal education is not the only criterion to showcase the adults’ ability to learn.

Later in his book, Lindeman makes several statements which move into an idealistic concept of education and how education supports society. For purposes of this short discussion, I will focus on the second: “How can education supply directive energy for collective enterprise? By transforming the battle of interests from warfare to creative conflict” (Lindeman, 1926).

Creative conflict in a diverse society is often contrary to human instinct. Creative conflict certainly occurs in ivory towers and Paris coffee shops, but for those of us who live in the real world, warfare, of varying types, often makes the decision. While this may be controversial, I think it is real. It would be a wonderful ideal if education can strive towards developing future leaders to embrace creative conflict; however, in reality, I think this will be a struggle.

Reference:
Lindeman, E. (1926). The meaning of adult education. (1989 edition). Norman, OK: Harvest House, Ltd.

How Disney Makes Training Enchanting

When you visit a Disney Park, there is energy and magic that inspires you to smile, relax, imagine and dream. It is no wonder that Disney has bottled this magic into their one-of-a-kind Disney University and Disney Institute.

Disney University is an internal program that provides training using a curriculum centered on storytelling and tradition and communicates the “three magic imperatives: 1. Keep the park clean. 2. Create happiness. 3. Do your job” (Allerton, 1997).

Disney Institute offers customized professional development to businesses. The external programs extend the Disney magic into outside organizations and include training in personnel management, leadership development, and customer service management (Disney Institute, 2014).

Allerton (1997) describes what is coined as the “Disney Difference” at both the Disney Institute and Disney University. This “Difference” is summarized by a few key points: create fun in training; create a consistent organizational theme; empower staff; communicate priorities and their order of importance to staff; celebrate people who have moved positions within the organization; and, finally, guests (customers) perceptions are reality (Allerton, 1997).

The “Difference” promotes fun, infuses fun and practices fun in training. The “Difference” provides unexpected surprises in training. The “Difference” creates positivity in training, a concept both young and old can relate to and embrace.

Innovative, positive, fun training techniques will help a diverse group of learners to rally together. Disney demonstrates the success of this model. Hopefully, you can add the “Difference” to your next training program.

References:
Allerton, H. (May 1997). Professional development the Disney way. Training & Development, 51 (5), 50-57.
Disney Institute. (2014). Our story. Retrieved from: http://disneyinstitute.com/about/our-story/

eLearning – Beyond the Buzz

eLearning –Beyond the Buzz

The concept of eLearning is hot. Blogs, wikis, tweets and even journals are proclaiming the rise in eLearning as one of the fastest growing phenomena in higher education, or so it seems. Computer-based education has actually been around a long time. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign introduced a computer-based Education Research Laboratory project in 1959 (Lepi, 2012; SAM, 2012). The University of Alberta Department of Medicine offered early versions of online courses in 1968 (Lepi, 2012; SAM, 2012). The University of Phoenix opened its online doors in 1989. The University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. launched its fully online MBA in 1997. These brave instructors and administrators were pioneers in eLearning education! So folks, eLearning is not new. There just happens to be much more bandwidth these days, and it seems everyone wants to jump on board.

So moving beyond this latest hype surrounding eLearning, let us focus on the tactics of eLearning. There has so many tools to produce effective synchronous and asynchronous learning modules, but most of us who are teaching in the medium are not doing enough to incorporate these tricks of the trade into our course designs. And the tricks mean more than simply linking to a YouTube video or recording an opening introductory audio “welcome to class” recording. The advantages of eLearning are that we can incorporate features into an online course that do not even exist in the face-to-face format. eLearning provides us with the ability to interact using writing collaboration tools (i.e. GoogleDocs), real-time interactions between instructors and students (i.e. webcasts), learner-created resource guides (i.e. wikis) and much, much more.

The eLearning buzz needs to push the envelope a bit more. The eLearning buzz should be about: are we doing it well?

References:

Lepi, K. (2012, November 12). Who actually started online education? Edudemic: Connecting Education and Technology. Retrieved from: http://www.edudemic.com/online-education-starters/

SAM. (2012, October 9). 11 early online education pioneers who paved the way for today. [blog post]. Avatargeneration. Retrieved from: http://www.avatargeneration.com/2012/10/early-online-education-pioneers-who-paved-the-way/