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                                                                               A Career Reimagined in Service of Others  

My decision to obtain a Masters in the Indiana University Adult Education program resulted from a slowly evolving shift of interest and passion in my work in the field of education from children to adults. This evolution was inspired by volunteer work with adults, involvement in adult instructional design applications, evolving technology and a change in interests resulting from personal growth.  My professional focus on adult learning complements my desire at this stage of my life to be involved in a more diverse and challenging educational environment. 

The completion of my Masters in Instructional Design seven years ago was a pivotal point in my life and contributed greatly to my career reimagined.  My experiences with online learning and involvement with emerging technologies opened my eyes to the unlimited potential that exists for me to enhance adult lives.  It is incredibly exciting to be a part of this new environment that has now opened the door to vast learning opportunities for adults.  I find the continually expanding knowledge base provide incredible opportunities that align with my professional goal in the design of adult learning applications and programs. 

I am very proud of my eleven years of successful work with facilitating and designing learning for pre-adults.  As a facilitator, I found my strong passion for assisting others through learning overcame a shyness in public speaking.   It also highlighted a major strength I have for creative design and application of unique learning opportunities that fully engage the learner.  During this period, a strong focus was placed on facilitating and designing collaborative, problem-based learning based on previous knowledge in an authentic environment.

In my transition from a pre-adult to adult educator, I still find these principles of constructivism provide a strong foundation for practice with adults.  They fit amazingly well with my new understandings of the adult learner combined with my training in instructional design.  Most importantly, they provide mechanisms for a designer to address the diversity of experiences that an adult learner brings to learning. 

For example, constructivism places emphasis on the facilitation of new learning based on previous knowledge.  My instructional design training has provided the skills to ascertain this incredibly diverse wealth of knowledge through analysis that ascertains needs, relevancy, as well as skills to design, develop, implement and evaluate appropriate learning products.   My adult education training enables me to facilitate new learning based on that analysis of previous knowledge.  I now have a foundational understanding of learners’ needs, grounded by theory, in order to provide the bridge to cross to attain deeper understandings through critically reflective activities. 

Constructivism also provides navigation for the choices I make in the design, development and delivery of instruction and adult programs.  These include the utilization of effective strategies such as presenting the new learning in a problem based format, utilizing scaffolding strategies to deliver instruction with advance organizers and chunking the instruction.  In addition, I continually strive to be current on emerging technologies to engage the learner with innovative blended instruction and collaborative opportunities.

The Adult Education program has been essential in deepening my understandings of adult development, history, and theory in order to provide learning opportunities that promote self-direction that leads to lifelong learning.  During my volunteer work with adults, I developed an awareness of the difficulties presented to a learner for self-direction.  I have found Knowles’ androgyny model best aligns with these constructivist principles in my overall mission to assist learner self-direction.  This model provides a guide on adult learning needs that allows for more effective development of learning applications and programs.

I have included several artifacts in my portfolio that directly demonstrate a substantial foundational knowledge of adult learning, as well as application, in the program towards my reimagined career.  They include further insights and detail into my philosophies on adult development and learning as well as individual and group projects that demonstrate the successful application of this knowledge.       

I am fully aware that there exists a gap at this time in fully realizing my reimagined career.  This gap is now a matter of receiving opportunities to apply the knowledge I have gained in the program.  I believe these experiences will allow continued growth through reflection as well as allow for the building of new understandings in the process.  I am particularly interested in building learning through design experience in the area of integration of collaborative learning opportunities.

​In closing, Bandura observed that the ultimate motivator for life long learning is the personal empowerment that accumulates through the mastery of experiences.  I believe this to be true for my reimagined career as well as the learners that I hope to have the opportunity to empower through my efforts.

Name: Susan Neal

Course Department, Number & Title: ACE D505 – Adult Learning through the Lifespan

Semester & Year enrolled: Fall 2015

 

 

Caption Statement for “Who am I?” Essay


         My first artifact of importance is my “Who am I” essay completed earlier in the program.  This project involved synthesizing my previous experience as a pre-adult educator, information gained from a teaching perspective inventory and my learning thus far in the program on adult development and learning. 

         I appreciated this effort because it helped me to begin to define my practice as an adult educator.  I had previously identified myself as a constructivist in my pre-adult practice; however, I was open to all adult development and learning theories for forming a framework for practice with adults.

         It was interesting to observe my progression for application of the foundational elements of constructivism practice in my transition to adult learning.  I believe the diversity of experiences held by adults fits well with constructivist theories of development, learning and practice and the incorporation of these elements into my framework will enable me to work more effectively with adult learners.

        The reflection that transpired from this project also inspired me to refine and further develop my practice for incorporating social experiences within the learning.  This also involves gaining a better understanding of the mechanics of group participation for application into my practice.   

        This project was a meaningful experience that further supports my reimagined career.  The reflection on my pre-adult concepts of practice allowed me to advance a vision for adults based on new understandings of adult development and learning.  This growth, in turn, informs my practice in the design and development of learning as well as the undertaking of program planning.