This journal entry is my reflection of the statement that “the need for continuing education has dramatically escalated with the increase in knowledge production” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 18). I will address objective, reflective, interpretive, and decisional questions in regards to this quote.
I have learnt that adult learning is an ongoing process that does not end when you graduate. Knowledge gained in the classroom evolves over time and it is important to acquire this newly produced knowledge in order to accomplish your goals in your career. One way to gain new knowledge is to be involved in some form of continuing education, whether it be formal or nonformal learning. This momentum for further learning is being driven by rapid improvements in computer technology, specifically the Internet and the World Wide Web.
The knowledge life cycle illustrates that produced knowledge is captured, refined, stored, managed, and disseminated (Rainer, Cegielski, Splettstoesser-Hogeterp, & Sanchez-Rodriquez, 2011, pp. 132-133). Dissemination can occur through continuing education resulting in learners refining what they learnt and producing new knowledge, hence repeating the knowledge life cycle. The speed at which this cycle is moving is what caught my attention in the above quote. It has been predicted that between 2012 and 2017 Internet traffic will have increased threefold (Cisco, 2013, p. 1). This vast increase in information is causing problems in knowledge management for many organizations. For example, due to the rapid developments in technology, A-Soft, a Danish software company, is constantly involved in knowledge sharing and learning. The company was drowning in information, so they adopted information technology (IT) to manage their growing knowledge base. A case study of the organization discovered that this preoccupation with technology took attention away from the social aspect of learning (Elmholdt, 2004, pp. 333-334).
I teach computer-based information systems, which deal with collecting, processing, storing, analyzing, and disseminating information for some purpose through the use of IT (Rainer et al., 2011, p. 40). As soon as a new IT tool comes out, it is speculated that within a few months they are obsolete (Merriam et al., 2007, p. 18). This means that what I teach my students, might change within the same semester! What the quote has made me realize is that I need to be continuously involved in learning about the latest innovations and trends in my field. IT is not the only industry that is growing so rapidly. In the health care industry, continuing education is occurring many areas, but much more is needed. For example, a study by Kohlstadt & Wharton (2013, pp. 4-6) on pediatricians’ knowledge base of obesity-related drug effects revealed correct responses to some questions as low as twenty-nine percent. For engineers, development cycles are being shortened by the introduction of new tools and methods. It has been suggested that lifelong learning is critical to the success of an engineer’s career (Meredith, 2007). I believe this is true for any career, including my own.
My “Aha!” moment was the realization that I am always going to be learning new things and this excites me! I was a student from kindergarten up until my PhD studies in Australia. Due to family reasons, I had to withdraw from my studies and move back to Canada where I began teaching at British Columbian post-secondary institutions. After a year without any formal learning, the absence of learning was becoming apparent to me. I involved myself in some self-directed learning to keep my mind fresh but I was not fulfilled or motivated the way I was back in Australia. Nemec (2011, p. 72) says that “people who have only experienced highly structured learning environments will likely remain unprepared for self-directed learning.” My previous studies were in the hard sciences, which are highly structured, but I do not believe that my prior learning environments are the result of my learning problems. My learning difficulties were due to a lack of relevance. I was always learning with the goal of a degree and future employment in mind, but this mindset does not apply to me anymore. Now I have a new reason for being involved in learning, namely to be outstanding in my teaching career to both my students and colleagues. My learning is also no longer restricted to my field of expertise, but has been expanded to included adult education.
As an adult educator, my constant need and desire for learning can be reflected in my classroom. I need to be more aware about students’ needs with respect to their learning. The learning needs of adults in today’s world are being shaped by demographics, the global economy, and IT (Merriam et al., 2007, p. 7). I discuss to great length in my classes about how this three factors are changing organizations worldwide. I can also give my students some insight into how their educational lives are changing and assure them that they will continue to learn in the workplace to stay competitive in their industry. The new knowledge I gain can also be used to benefit my colleagues. At my university we are seeing increasingly more international students with language and cultural gaps that we as instructors can fill. Economically, we are seeing budget cutbacks from both the provincial government and senior management. From a technological point of view, concerns are being raised in regards to student privacy on third-party servers when we use publishers’ online assessment tools. If I want to be a successful contributor to my university’s progress forward, I need to be involved in adult education learning.
A key insight I have as a result of this quote is that I need to be involved in continuous learning to be an effective instructor. The knowledge life cycle needs to be moving within people regularly. If this cycle stays still for too long it can lead to lack of fulfillment and motivation in the workplace. There is also the danger of falling so far behind in your knowledge that you become an outsider at work, unable to provide suitable insight and experiences with your co-workers. This is a path I will always strive to stay away from.
In the future, I will always be aware of how the material I teach and how my students’ needs are changing. This semester, I had to remove a large portion of material related to locally installing software on computers. This method of using software has become old-fashioned due to the explosion of information on the Web, in particular cloud-based applications. Many of my students knew about this market change before coming to class as it had been discussed in the news. If I had not learned this, I would have been delivering knowledge to them that was out of date. Even the course textbook in PIDP 3100 has remarks such as “the phenomenal growth of online learning is reflected in some statistics that will be outdated before this book is published” (Merriam et al., 2007, p. 40). After I complete my BC Provincial Instructor Diploma, my adventure in adult learning will be far from over. I look forward to seeking new knowledge and applying it within the classroom to benefit myself, students, and colleagues.
Cisco. (2013). Cisco visual networking index: Forecast and methodology, 2012–2017 . San Jose: Cisco.
Elmholdt, C. (2004). Knowledge management and the practice of knowledge sharing and learning at work: A case study. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(2), 327-339.
Kohlstadt, I., & Wharton, G. (2013). Clinician uptake of obesity-related drug information: A qualitative assessment using continuing medical education activities. Nutrition Journal, 12(1), 1-9.
Meredith, J. (2007). Even busy engineers can take advantage of lifelong learning. Electronic Design, 55(8), 20.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Nemec, P. (2011). The Self-Directed Learner. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 35(1), 71-73.
Rainer, R. K., Cegielski, C. G., Splettstoesser-Hogeterp, I., & Sanchez-Rodriquez, C. (2011). Introduction to information systems: Supporting and transforming business (2nd Canadian Ed.). Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Inc.