EDTECH 522: Reflection, Adult Education and Online Learning

Define online teaching and learning.

As defined by Ko and Rossen (2004). “Teaching online means conducting a course partially or entirely online through the Internet.” But what does that really mean? I have always strongly believed that there is something about online classes that creates a sense of community. Since you are not rushing into class weekly and running out the door, there is a pause to create a sense of belonging and relationships. An effective online teacher will engage students, lead discussions and create a class that fosters learning. Students will go away from the class with better knowledge and collaboration of the subjects and better relationships with fellow students.

What is andragogy and how does andragogy relate to online teaching and learning?

Andragogy put simply is to teach adults, adult education. Before I researched this concepts further, I had heard of pedagogy quite often, but never andragogy.  Andragogy is referred to as learner-focused education, whereas pedagogy is referred to as teacher-focused education (Conner, 2004). Andragogy was brought to the forefront by Malcolm Knowles he wanted to define a  clear difference between pedagogy and andragogy. He wanted to prove that as adults we learn much differently than children.

Characteristics of Adults Learners as defined by Malcolm Knowles.

Self-concept: As a person matures his self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being

Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.

Readiness to learn. As a person matures his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles.

Orientation to learning. As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centredness.

Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal.

Six key learning outcomes of adult learning as defined by Malcolm Knowles.

Adults should acquire a mature understanding of themselves. They should understand their needs, motivations, interests, capacities, and goals. They should be able to look at themselves objectively and maturely. They should accept themselves and respect themselves for what they are, while striving earnestly to become better.

Adults should develop an attitude of acceptance, love, and respect toward others. This is the attitude on which all human relations depend. Adults must learn to distinguish between people and ideas, and to challenge ideas without threatening people. Ideally, this attitude will go beyond acceptance, love, and respect, to empathy and the sincere desire to help others.

Adults should develop a dynamic attitude toward life. They should accept the fact of change and should think of themselves as always changing. They should acquire the habit of looking at every experience as an opportunity to learn and should become skillful in learning from it.

Adults should learn to react to the causes, not the symptoms, of behavior. Solutions to problems lie in their causes, not in their symptoms. We have learned to apply this lesson in the physical world, but have yet to learn to apply it in human relations.

Adults should acquire the skills necessary to achieve the potentials of their personalities. Every person has capacities that, if realized, will contribute to the well-being of himself and of society. To achieve these potentials requires skills of many kinds—vocational, social, recreational, civic, artistic, and the like. It should be a goal of education to give each individual those skills necessary for him to make full use of his capacities.

Adults should understand the essential values in the capital of human experience. They should be familiar with the heritage of knowledge, the great ideas, the great traditions, of the world in which they live. They should understand and respect the values that bind men together.

Adults should understand their society and should be skillful in directing social change. In a democracy the people participate in making decisions that affect the entire social order. It is imperative, therefore, that every factory worker, every salesman, every politician, every housewife, know enough about government, economics, international affairs, and other aspects of the social order to be able to take part in them intelligently. (Knowles, 1950)

As instructors or course developers we need to consider our audience. We need to look at who the class is geared towards and make sure we offer a well-rounded class utilizing the outcomes that Knowles discussed. As learners we also need to take charge of our learning and share feedback and reflections with our instructions to create a more collaborative and effective learning environment.


Conner, M. L. (2004). Andragogy and pedagogy. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from http://agelesslearner.com/intros/andragogy.html

Knowles, M.S. (1950) Informal adult education, Chicago: Association Press, pages 9-10.

Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2004). Teaching online: A practical guide. Houghton Mifflin.


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