Last one in the P.O.O.L. is a rotten egg!

· Online Education

Welcome to Perspectives on Online Learning, our new blog dedicated to conversation about online learning, teaching, design, and a little technology tossed in for good measure. Let’s talk and share — agree and disagree — teach each other and learn from each other — find opportunities for collaboration — seek and give feedback — think “out loud” — engage in dialogue — and most of all have a good time.

W.I.I.F.M?  What’s in it for me is the opportunity to connect with others who share a passion for adult learning. I have the opportunity to learn from you in this comfortable and supportive space. I have the opportunity to teach and share what I have learned from my career and life lessons.

W.I.I.F.Y?  What’s in it for you is the same as for me. You are invited to contribute and share. You are welcome to add your perspective, post comments, ask questions, try things out, ask for help.

W.I.I.F.U?  What’s in it for us? Time will tell. I believe we can all benefit from thinking together, challenging each other, helping each other, and laughing together. Let’s have a ball!

About Me — The Formative Years

I can’t remember a time BT (before teaching) … I have been a teacher forever. As the big sister in a family with five siblings, I taught such lofty subjects as shoe tying and bike riding. At school I eagerly volunteered to be a peer mentor and I became a swimming instructor as early as anyone would allow me to do so. I taught arts and crafts during summer programs at Will Rogers Elementary School in Santa Monica, and was the “Land Sports” counselor at Camp Tahquitz Meadows in the California San Jacinto Mountains.

My major at Northern Illinois University was Physical Education. Though my career as a PE teacher was quite short, I value what I learned about teaching and learning in the gym, field, and pool. I attribute much of what I know about real learning to teaching a kid how to shoot a basket or master that flip turn. As the inimitable John Wooden said, You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned. Like the great UCLA basketball coach, I learned to be very humble as a teacher. It’s not about what I know or am able to do … it is about what the learners can do.

Over a seventeen year career with the American Red Cross, I learned most of what I know about adult education. From 1977 through 1986, I worked in Safety Services — First Aid, Water Safety, CPR, and Boating Safety. Early on I became an amazing instructor (or so I thought). My lectures were sheer perfection and my visual aids were beyond compare. I could tell you the anatomy and physiology of how the heart works, the physics of buoyancy and Archimedes’ Principle, the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I could show you how to do chest compressions, rescue a drowning child, trim a sail, or splint an open fracture.

By and by I became an Instructor-Trainer and thus launched my beloved career — teaching people how to teach. I learned everything I could about adult learning theory and methods. I generously shared all I knew from years teaching people to swim or give first aid or CPR. I had stories for DAYS.

As Director of Safety Services for the Mid-America Chapter, I frequently visited classes being taught by our wonderful Chicago area volunteers. I was the one schlepping the mannequins, splints, and bandage kits. I would show up at the last session of classes so I could thank the instructors and fetch the equipment. How wonderful to have all these people learning how to save lives! And how proud am I to have my signature on all those wallet certificates?

Then a funny thing happened. I began to see a very troubling pattern. On the final night of a six-week standard first aid course, the bandage kits and splints were frequently still all packed up in the boxes in which they were delivered — unopened and unused! Wait a minute — I’m confused! What’s going on here? The instructors are so knowledgeable and they perform excellent demonstrations. They are covering all the material. The students are hanging on their every word and deed. They are teaching!

Or were they? You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned …

This was my big fat “AHA!” moment. Right after whacking myself on the forehead, I launched myself on a mission to transform my beliefs about teaching and learning and my practices as well.

This blog reflects a long and wonderful journey following my personal epiphany. I am eager to tell the rest of my story and to hear yours. How did I get myself out of the bricks and mortar classroom and into the virtual one? What have I been up to for almost 40 years? And what am I doing now?

I hope you will join me as I continue along this path. Thanks for jumping in the P.O.O.L. with me!

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