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Preliminary remarks

Preliminary Remarks

Theories on adult training and education were differentiated centuries ago. Originally formulated by Alexander Kapp, a German teacher, in 1833, the notion of andragogy, however, was described with precision in the United States and Europe only two decades ago and popularized through the work of Malcolm Knowles. His works suggest that effective adult education requires special methodologies, facilitated by teachers competent on the field, who are able to apply also special principles.

Four are the most important assumptions that Knowles (1980) states should characterize adult education processes:

    A. Self-concept: Self direction capacity, maturity comes with the urge of self governing (See also Maslow and the need for self-realization). Adults need to feel independent and competent.

    B. Experience: Maturity also means an accumulation of experience and implicit (or not) knowledge that needs to be validated, recognized, valued and put into use. This results into an increasing learning resource. (See also: constructivism)

    C. Readiness to learn. Specially oriented towards the development of each person´s already acquired roles in life. A mother, an employer, or a boss. This is a condition that affects the learning success.

    D. Orientation to learning. A more experienced learner, shifts from the object to its application. It is therefore important to show the practicalities of the learning experience, the relevance of the lessons and how it can effectively affect their life, positively. Specially appreciated are case studies and simulations, learning by doing.

Taking them into consideration may facilitate the design of courses and enhance learning experiences regardless on the background expertise of the student. Advanced learners and novices should be able to engage in productive work if strategic methodologies can be proposed, including technological support and solutions.

Conflict management theory can provide with useful insights on how to handle heterogeneous groups and create an environment of associated instead of divisive or competitive learning. In this field it seems advisable to have instructors with demonstrated competence on the field, negotiation and coaching experience. For association integrating the group instead of dividing it seems the most coherent with these views.

An additional theoretical approach is valuable to identify potential teaching and learning techniques and the choice of supporting technologies; learning by doing or activity theory (Nardi,1996).

Traditional teaching techniques have been replaced in most educational environments, with innovative strategies. Learning is emphasized over teaching, especially if this involves delivering lectures to a passive audience. Considering andragogic postulates and a more proactive attitude of learners nowadays, all they bring into a class may contribute to the enhancement of the group development. The accumulated knowledge, possibly work experience, and motivation of the participants does not diminish their capacity to benefit from the course, but rather open the possibility for innovative learning, assisted by technology solutions, on which some of them can be already  literate.

This chapter seeks to propose a non-traditional (pedagogical) teaching strategy, self contained into a syllabus for a course of photography for different levels of skills and expertise.  
The aim of the course would be to raise every one´s competence on the field, with the planning of a practical activity that integrates technical and creative skills of all participants, and will result in a tangible outcome that the students and facilitator could benefit from: an exhibition in various formats based on electronic portfolios that are for the students to keep, and continue improving in time.

The tactics are inspired by andragogy lessons, conflict management techniques (with the validation of everyone's needs, interests and wishes; to achieve results where everyone can have a stake and benefit), and supported by the available technological tools. The project can conclude with a new interactive environment like a virtual art gallery, but in the making, only free and accessible, transparent, ubiquitous and manageable technology is preferred. This last to avoid confusion and promote efficient use of time.

 

Discuss & brainstorm