Learner development looks very different based on learners’ backgrounds. Most obviously, some learners have identified learning exceptionalities or diverse and specified learner needs. Adult learners bring work, life experiences and other factors to course content. Workplace learners must juggle their learning goals with deadlines and other on-the-job expectations.
“Learner-centred approaches are integral to effective learner development,” says Cory Coletta, a learner services leader who facilitates a course in CPL’s Serving Students in Higher Education program.
In his course, he teaches a module in learner development and has participants tell him what they want to learn. “That really puts them at the centre,” he says. Based on their input, he builds the lesson. “I’m able to see what an instructor like myself expects versus what the learned experience is. They’re often so different.”
The learning environment does not have to be a classroom. Increasingly, people learn from their own homes and interact remotely with instructors and colleagues.
Matthew Christian, a facilitator in the Adult Learning and Development program who teaches Online Learning Environments, says the move to digital learning has helped highlight that learning happens in many places. “The classroom you go to is just a vehicle. The same way that Zoom can be a learning vehicle,” he says.
Every environment has benefits and downsides, but the environment should never be an excuse to scrap pedagogy. What’s important is to understand how best to achieve our goals and optimize the environment for the learners’ goals.
Teaching and Learning
Teaching and learning, meanwhile, is an implicitly valuable domain for OISE CPL. It refers to the skills of instructional design, facilitation, and assessment. Teaching and Learning are the educator skills that bridge learner development with the context of the learning environment to achieve desired learning outcomes.
Coletta says teachers can always improve their range of instructional skills. “You need to embrace learning how to teach. It’s fundamental at OISE CPL. I feel like when I’m here I’ve been challenged in changing how I typically teach and have embraced new strategies.”
Professional service, finally, is what the OISE CPL community is all about: sharing information and skills to improve education across sectors. CPL runs a mentorship program among instructors, so they’re constantly sharing ideas and materials. Collaboration is common among teams. “I found that when someone asked about the way I did things, I found I had to answer and truly think about the students and how I’m delivering materials,” says Coletta.
The program encourages facilitators and students to share what they know and question what they don’t. “We’re creating communities of inquiry. We do not have all the answers,” says Josie Di Vincenzo, sessional facilitator in the Workplace Learning and Development stream. “We need communities who are passionate about bringing together ideas to solve problems we don’t currently have the answer to.”
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