Intangible. Can’t touch them, but you can try to wrap your head around them. For me, I need a reason to ponder an idea. It doesn’t have to be a practical reason, but it has to be a reason that gets my head in gear and focuses it on thinking.

At the recent CAIS and AIMS Tech Retreats, we did a lot of pondering of ideas, in particular, ideas about optimal conditions for getting adults to learn. The focus of my CAIS session was how adults learn, and at AIMS it was professional development and collaborating with colleagues, but the topics certainly overlap. In both instances, an overflow of ideas emerged from group brainstorms.

At CAIS we used index cards to collect ideas, one item per card. You can read more about this activity and see pictures here, or get a summary of the ideas and see the related wordle here

Anytime you ask teachers to generate ideas about how adults learn, you are bound to get a combination of thoughts based upon themselves as both learners and teachers. The result is a well-rounded list of suggestions, which I entered into a Google Doc. There are any number of ways that this list could have been organized, and if I have the opportunity to try this exercise again, sticky notes may be substituted for index cards so that people can play around in real-time with categorizing the feedback.

The almost thirty participants touched upon the major components necessary for adult learning:

• having a reason to learn
• feeling in control of the process
• being in a safe environment
• tapping prior knowledge 
• appealing to emotions
• providing an experiential component
• setting aside time for reflection

as well as accommodating varied learning styles.

After looking over their ideas, what, if anything, would you add to their brainstorm list? 



3 thoughts on “Ideas

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Round Up #63 « Neuroanthropology

  2. synapsesensations Post author

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken. I think, if time permitted, that ice breakers would somewhat alleviate issues resulting from random groups. And as you noted, changing the grouping can also have a positive effect.

    Hope all is going well with you!

  3. Alan Coady

    What occurred to me about group work may have already been expressed in the phrase, “working in new pairs” although I’m not sure what the implied benefit is in the existing case.

    My point is that adults, when brought randomly together, often rub along less naturally than children as they have more baggage. Perceived difference of outlook, politics, class, moral code etc. make tensions a constant possibility. Frequent changes of grouping can alleviate any such tensions.

    On a more positive note, kindred spirits can spot one another a mile off and form instant, creative bonds.

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