Who has shaped your beliefs about teaching and learning?

In my current class, we were asked to prepare a reflection paper on our beliefs about learning, about the educative process, and about teaching adults. This gave me great pause because not only did I have a lot of ground to cover, but I did not really focus on who influenced me rather what influenced me.

As I wrote in my conclusion, my ideas about learning, the educative process, and teaching adults were forged in my time in the Air Force. Two constants were driven into my head; get the mission done, and take care of your people. It is the people who get the mission done, therefore, they are the top priority. Part of taking care of your people was ensuring they were well trained. As a supervisor, you did not want your troops to be dependent upon you; you wanted them to perform unsupervised as soon as possible. As a supervisor, you wanted them to excel, so you showed them strategies to become lifelong learners so they could excel. My mission has changed, but my ideas for accomplishing it have not changed. I am interested in providing resources and supporting lifelong learning which in turn supports the organizational mission.

As I thought about it more, I was able to identify  a number of individuals who have shaped my beliefs.

Graham Attwell got me interested in personal learning environments and personal learning networks.  As I see it, personal learning environments  help feed information to keep you current; mine are technology-based platforms. More…

Jay Cross has prompted me to explore ideas about informal learning in the workplace. Since individuals spend over 70% of their learning in an informal mode, how can we help them learn better in the workplace. More…

K. Patricia Cross highlighted a number of ideas about adult learners. She pointed out that adult learners are hesitant to seek out professionals to help solve problems; however, professionals can get information to learners through the use of learning guides and resources. More…

John Dewey helped me better understand that learning is lifelong and best occurs in a naturally environment rather than isolate learning into subject silos. Learning is also social, we learn from others through dialogue. More…

Malcolm Knowles has provided me with the most information about adult learners. I believe his works should be read by all Extension educators. He has caused me to rethink a lot of my instructional methods. While I have made progress, I do have to admit, I still have a lot more work to do. More…

Victoria Marsick and Karen Watkins also discuss informal learning in the workplace. They provide strategies for leveraging informal learning. More and more…

Allen Tough is my key to informal learning. He has thoroughly explained that adults are constantly learning, and why they take on learning projects. Others have extended his research but he is the cornerstone in this area. More…

George Siemens had me look at how people tap into knowledge, and more importantly how they connect to new sources of knowledge.  How can individuals and organizations strengthen their learning connections? More…

Daniel Tobin, like Cross, Marsick, and Watkins, focuses on self-directed or informal learning in the workplace. Again, a great resource for ideas on fostering a positive learning environment in the workplace. More…

So, what am I interested in? Informal learning, learning in the workplace, social constructivism, connectivism, and adult learning.  Naturally, I am interested in how technology impacts all of these areas.

Who has shaped your beliefs about teaching and learning?