this is a story…

Once upon a time, in a land not so far from the VCC Campus, a baby boy named David was born. He was a curious child, with an appetite for adventure and cookies. But mainly cookies. Throughout his childhood on the North Shore of Vancouver, he played with his two older sisters, went on sailing adventures with his father, and helped his mom bake all those cookies. Elementary and high school flew by – and all of a sudden, he was a college athlete, studying science and engineering, and dreaming of traveling. In the years after college, he visited over 25 countries, living in Australia, Fiji, and even Montreal! After realizing his heart belonged in Vancouver, he began a career in Sustainability and Energy Management. David still lives a life full of annoying his older sisters, sailing with his old-man, and baking cookies with his Mom.

Below, you will find a few articles and comments in the field of adult education – enjoy!



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Kolbs Experiential Learning Cycle

For this blog post, I chose to reference this very educational YouTube video:

I’m going to print out Kolbs experiential learning cycle and hang it on the fridge. It serves as a great reminder of the cyclical nature of learning, and the do-review-learn-try again strategy. Personally, most of my learning starts with doing, and failing. This is a very quick, and sometimes painful, way to learn, and depending on the consequences. This cycle of learning would be especially important to consider if you are not in a traditional classroom but, for example, in the workplace where assignments and evaluations are not built into your regular workday. Being able to self evaluate, learn and re-do is a very important skill to get better at your job. In my teaching career, I should build in time to reflect after each lecture. Unfortunately, feedback from students is rare, so I need to take this on myself so I can see where I failed, and generate new ideas and understandings of myself and practices, ultimately making me a better teacher for the next time!

Cognitive Science for Learning: Dweck’s fixed mindset vs growth mindset

Article link:

Before jumping into the gory details of the articles, I came across this on my twitter feed when I searched for #growthmindset. It is using the classic image that says “Keep Calm and Carry On”, but it really summarized a growth mindset… #failforward!


The referenced article details 4 steps to change your mindset from fixed to growth. Mindset is a simple idea discovered by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. Simply put, in a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, creating a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. 4 basic steps to change to a growth mindset include:

  1. Learn to hear your fixed mindset voice
  2. Recognize that you have a choice
  3. Talk back to it with a growth mindset
  4. Take the growth mindset action

Reading the necessary steps to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset forced me to reflect on my own tendencies. While I may sometime fall into a fixed frame of mind, perseverance and effort are qualities I try to embody as much as possible. When teaching, it may be easy to relax and fall into a fixed mindset, especially if you are teaching the same materials semester after semester. In order to keep into a growth mindset, I will challenge myself to create better content, more engaging lectures, and put in effort for the good of the students. This mindset will hopefully passively, or actively, transfer to my students. Looking at the steps in more details, learning what that fixed mindset voice sounds like will be a very important skill to have. When it is not possible to recognize a fixed rut I may be in, I try to surround myself with people that would call me out, and encourage growth. Further to this, in the classroom, I will try to help students recognize their fixed mindset voice, and encourage them to follow a few easy steps to get into that growth mindset… easier said than done!

Skype Call With Diane

Chatting with another student taking this course was really fun. Learning about Diana’s motivation to take the PIDP program, and how she has navigated through this course so far was very interesting!

Diana wrote about an emerging trend in her field, Wildfires. This is also very topical since wildfire season has already started throughout British Columbia. Interestingly, I wrote my coinciding blog post on Water Conservation, which is definitely related to Wildfires, especially after the recent fires in Fort MacMurray. Regarding trends in adult education, Diana seemed most interested in self directed learning, and reflected upon the 4 steps of :
1. Be ready to learn
2. Set learning goals
3. Engage in process
4. Evaluation.
Lastly, as Diana moves forward in her career, she thinks her role will evolve into providing more small scale learning to smaller groups. Clearly this will be a less traditional teaching scenario, but one that may be more prevalent in the corporate training world than the traditional university classroom.

It was a pleasure talking with Diane, and we both hope it is a wet summer so the forest fires can be kept at bay!


ARCS Motivation Model

As a alternative of posting an article or journal, this blog will kick off with a YouTube video which reviews what the ARCS model is. It was produced by Lisa Johnson, but the ARCS model was founded by J.M. Keller (2010).

The ARCS model is a great framework to get students motivated.It focuses on 4 different keys to motivation, Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction. This is just a framework to motivation, and forms learning designs and impacts outcomes.

Including all four factors seems overwhelming when planning a lesson, but having them in the back of your mind will be very helpful. I think that the most important factor to kick off a lesson is attention. No matter what the content is, if you build a sense of inquiry, perception, and humour, there will be a great foundation to apply the final three factors or relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.

The YouTube tutorial that Lisa Johnson made is a very clear lesson on ARCS, and I will refer back to it in the future!


The Best Learning Environment

Based on an article from the ‘TeachingThought’ website, found here, the following are characteristics of a highly effective learning environment:

1. The students ask the questions—good questions

2. Questions are valued over answers

3. Ideas come from a divergent sources

4. A variety of learning models are used

5. Classroom learning “empties” into a connected community

6. Learning is personalized by a variety of criteria

7. Assessment is persistent, authentic, transparent, and never punitive

8. Criteria for success is balanced and transparent.

9. Learning habits are constantly modeled

10. There are constant opportunities for practice

The characteristic that I like most, especially for adult learners, is creating an open environment where participants feel free to ask any questions, even the seemingly simple ones. When questions are coming from the students, it is clear that they are listening, and it gives me a chance to expand on the content that was clearly not that clear at first. I also like using a variety of teaching models, relying most heavily on active participation.
Most of these are characteristics are transferable to an online learning environment, but I have found it is much more difficult to ‘set the mood’ online, and students are less likely to ask questions. Since students are not always keen to speak up and ask questions directly, I also try to encourage them to use the ‘comments’ section of the online lecture to ask questions. I hope to continue to find ways to get the students to speak more freely during lectures, and that technology does not get in the way of it!

The Adult Learner: Only The Real Stuff Please

Ah, the classic battle of the ages – pedagogy vs. andragogy. Young learners vs. adult learners. How do adults learn differently? First, let’s take a quick look at a December 2015 article from by Elise Wile called Children Vs. Adult Learning.

Right off the bat, the author seems to peg children learners as curious and enthusiastic, and adults as ‘been there done that’ learners, with tons of previous knowledge. Adults can be self directed and do not need the same structure and hand holding that children learners need, Clearly, as adult educators we need to focus on job applicability and real life examples in order for them to be excited and see value in the education. Relevance is also important when teaching children, but with a more pedagogical approach, they will trust that the teacher knows what’s best. I really agree with the conclusion that the author makes when stating that both children and adults will learn best when engaged in active learning, in small groups.

Teacher, Meet Tech.

I imagine a student of the future, or even of today, expecting fully integrated technology and online mastery from their teacher. They want beautifully designed graphics, embedded videos, and TED-talk style lectures with astounding visuals. All of this would make a dynamic and engaging learning experience, but it is not always possible to keep up with this trend as a teacher.

It takes a ton of effort and time to stay on top of technology. From Powerpoint shortcuts to integrated classroom software and online learning, there are countess ways technology can help in the classroom. BUT this also means teachers need to be well trained and well equipped to deliver. The integration of technology is by no means a new challenge for teachers, especially since the beginning of the internet era, but today, the tech-world is growing at outstanding speed, and keeping up is a full time job.

The following article, and referenced 2013 Report, touch on 6 technology challenges facing education:

6 Technology Challenges Facing Education