Recently, I made a career change to the private sector (online program management) from public school. One of the tasks in my new position as Curriculum Director is doing a monthly webinar. I was unfamiliar with presenting webinars so, I had a few questions. What is the topic of the webinar? Why do we do webinars? Who attends them?
The answers were; we do webinars because that’s what businesses do in the education sector. the topic of the webinar can be anything that is topical, trendy, or salient to what we are doing. The people attending are working in colleges and universities. Usually, they are looking for specific information about online program management and/or the topic of the webinar. As an aside, it’s shocking how many people attend these things.
According to Knowles (2017), adult learners appreciate being shown how learning is immediately relevant to their social roles. Instructional designers should carefully construct learning experiences that are authentic for learners based on their specific needs and, when possible, express how the skills or knowledge being acquired will be useful in a variety of fields.
This is true of the attendees of the webinars. They come to the webinars with very specific needs for information. For example, if our topic is personalized learning in higher education, we attract people from colleges and un9versities who are specifically planning to implement a personalized learning program. They have very specific questions. They are looking for answers to their questions. That is why they are attending.
In my professional (non-school) learning experience where the school district consultant read the Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Framework (2018) to the school district administrative team for two days. Everyone on the administrative team had specific questions about their new evaluator role. The questions went unanswered.
Similar to the attendees of the webinars, the school administrators were looking for information on how the new evaluation system was going into impact their practice. What did they need to know? What were some of the potential potholes that they might step in? The consultant missed the chance to create authentic learning experiences based on their specific needs and how the knowledge is to be used.
As an instructional designer, those are the opportunities we need to seize. We are in a time where adult learners are the new traditional students (Carter, 2018). Instructional designers and curriculum developers need to respond to this shifting landscape.
Carter, J. “Higher Ed Embraces the New ‘Traditional’ Student.” Higher Ed Embraces the New ‘Traditional’ Student , Education Dive, 4 May 2018, www.educationdive.com/news/higher-ed-embraces-the-new-traditional-student/522765/.
Knowles, M. (2013, April 04). Informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-knowl.htm
The Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Framework. (2018, March 31). Retrieved November 21, 2018, from http://www.doe.mass.edu/edeval/