Essay Example: Role of Technology on Online Adult Learning

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Web 2.0 can be defined as current online technology that enables many users to interact, collaborate, connect, and facilitate communication channels. Some of the elements of Web 2.0 consist of Wikis, and Social networking such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (Karrer, 2017). People should be ready to learn through the use of current technology to increase their knowledge and advance professionally. A group of professionals can use E-learning 2.0 tools as a support for their workgroups, and collaborative learning work tasks and research (Karrer, 2017). The tools will be able to simplify many tasks and raise their effectiveness. The Web 2.0 tools help people to share information among their group.

Social media

Social media is defined as internet-based software and interfaces that give folks an opportunity to interact with each other, exchange details about their personal lives like personal photos, professional information, biographical data, and their thoughts or ideas (Boven, 2014). Initially, social media was strictly a personal tool that folks used to interact with family and friends, but now they have been adopted by organization and businesses to reach to their clients. The new communication platform enables businesses to reach to their customers by disseminating to them information such as sales available and special coupons that the organization is offering. Social media has given everyone a platform that he/she can be able to communicate his ideas and share them with a large a group of audience. But basically, people use their social accounts to connect with other users. Social media is also being used to subscribe to get certain forms of information. Due to this education institutions have started using these platforms to disseminate crucial learning materials and other useful information to their students.

Online learning has played significant roles in the education sector especially in higher education, and this can be borrowed to assist adult learners in acquiring basic knowledge that will facilitate their day to day activities. Online communities can play many roles in meeting the needs of informal learning. When building a community of practice to assist in online learning for adults, one should know that some communities thrive while others fail to last for long due to the grand expectations of their providers or sponsors.

A community of practice is a group of individuals who share certain interests in a domain of peoples venture and engage in the process of joint learning that creates a given bond among them. In my framework, I would concentrate on adults who are willing to voluntarily participate in an online learning related to their job instead of taking a formal course. The framework has to incorporate the concepts of workplace and adult learning. This is because adults learn through their daily social practices instead of the environment that is designed to bolster and support their learning. In creating a community of practice (COP), one has to realize that these are self-organizing learning informal system and they differ with other communities in various ways (Boven, 2014). First, they learn through interacting with one another by engaging in joint discussions, assisting each other, in different activities, and sharing information. These interactions help them to build relationships creating a community around the online platform. Second, COP focuses on a domain of shared interest, and being a member means one has a certain level of knowledge and competence concerning that platform that differentiates members from other folks. Third, COP develops a shared compilation of stories, experiences, and methods of dealing and solving problems. The shared experiences and collection of stories build same knowledge base that they can rely upon when facing new challenges.

The framework should ensure these COPs helps people to learn about the difficulties of their job, build an image and reputation of the organization, explore the meaning of their job, and develop professionally. These communities deal with the technical acquisitions of skills needed for a specific practice as well as a social and informal aspect of sharing knowledge. In COP, people learn to function in a certain way and become encultured into practices of that community, viewpoints, language, and behaviors (Boven, 2014). As a moderator, I have to play an essential role in facilitating the functioning of the team by offering technical support, maintaining group process, and aiding the learning.

The Purpose of Participating

As a coordinator, I have to be determined in setting an environment that helps people to work together and do not feel as if they are isolated. In most cases, the occupation has to be filled with few professionals who can hardly meet face to face. The online environment will represent a way that these people will reach out and connect with their peers who have similar working conditions. Individuals who join the group are also motivated by professional obligations required in their workplace. As a coordinator, one should realize that there are two reasons why people stick together in 2.0 web and come back in case they leave the group. Many members come back after realizing that the information they used to receive enabled them to connect with their peers and makes their jobs simpler. The online environment gives valuable work resources even for people who hardly post but usually lurk in the background to read what is happening and going on through the page. The participants also come back in order to feel connected to the 2.0 web administrator and decrease the isolation brought by geographical location and job function.

Enculturation of new members

An essential feature of a COP is that it offers room for enculturation of new members into the practice. As a coordinator, I have to ensure that people who are willing to join the group are warmly welcomed to ensure they get an opportunity to learn from their senior peers. The group should encourage even the newcomers to post their ideas since they are likely to come up with new ideas about their professions. In most case, newcomers are intimidated to post their thoughts as they believe that since they are novice they have nothing to offer rather than to lurk and learn from other peoples post. In most cases, these people post when enquiring for useful information about their practice such as how to fill in year-end forms, courses offered, and the best way to program for cost-recovery. The newbies are assimilated with ease when their questions are responded in a clear and comprehensive manner. This makes their learning easier and feels that their needs are being prioritized hence they continue with the process of online learning.

Obstacles to the online learning

Technology is growing at a very high rate, and the need for it to be used in all sectors of learning has also grown. Despite the significant growth in the use of technology in adult education, much can still be done to integrate technology into learning process among the adults. However, in most cases, incorporating technology into adult learning is not easy as downloading an app. The major obstacles that one is likely to face when creating a community of practice to facilitate adult learning include the following.

Most of the adults lack digital media literacy

Digital media literacy is continuously becoming more crucial as a major skill in every profession. In most of the aged people do not have the important skills that are required to operate their social media accounts such as Facebook, what apps, and Twitters. In most cases, there is someone who operates the account on their behave meaning even if they join a certain community of practice domain, most of the information will go unutilized. Despite the increasing importance of digital media literacy, still training and supporting techniques and skills is very rare among the adults. Most people are being limited by lack of social media education since digital media has not yet become a norm. This challenge is intensified by the fact digital literacy is not all about tools but is more about thinking. The standards and skills based on the tools are somehow transient.

The current technology does not adequately support the demand for individualized learning

Adults are in high demand for customized education due to the unique needs driving them to join a community of practice domain offering education. The members do not have a choice to control what is posted on their social platforms, and they have to remain lurking even if the information that has been posted is less important to them. Although most of the people who join the domain are in the same professional, most of the information that is rendered to them is of no importance to them. The education among the adult can only remain relevant if it adapts according to the needs of the people. Individuals who enroll in this kind of platform to get relevant should understand that changes in education are hard hence they should be patient.

Some people are not will to join COP due various reasons

Some people do not want to ask for help since this will make them look dumb

Some individuals are not will to share information on how to do something well since they fear that others will view as if they are bragging

Most of the people are not willing to join COP because they do not see their values

Others do not know how to use technology and are not willing to learn even the basic

Some folks to hear about other peoples successes due to competition reasons

Other individuals do not like when others are scrutinizing what they are doing

Many people are frustrated by internet filters and feel that social network should be more fun and not work related issues

Many people do not have time to browsing through their gadget or social media pages due to the overload they have from the workplace

ROI in Community of Practice education

Return on Investment (ROI), is the gain or cost that an organization makes. It is determined using two ways: gain/value accrued or investment made. A successful COP learning initiative is supposed to gain more than the investment made. In determining the gains that will result from COP Kirkpatricks model of evaluation can be used to determine the gains that will come from the project. Philips ROI calculation can be included to make the framework more relevant and useful. Level IV evaluation data will help in converting the results into monetary terms (Pandey, 2016). Afterward, they can be compared to the cost of the adult learning program and be able to know the ROI. The model can be applied as summarized below:

Level1: It involves measuring reaction by taking feedback from the members of COP.

Level 2: It involves measuring learning using scoring patterns at the end of a certain period

Level 3: Behavioral changes are measured by combining various techniques to assess amount of newly acquired knowledge is being applied on the job

Level 4: Business impact is measured using the productivity gain; effect on quality is also measured through a decrease in re-works.

Level 5: ROI is calculated by converting the organization impact gains (shown in level 4) to a monetary value (Pandey, 2016).

In conclusion, the society is in its early stages of applying technology to support online communities and understand the dynamics and values of communities brought about as a response to the benefits of technology. The technology has various benefits to the communities as it enables them to exchange ideas thereby increasing their knowledge in their respective careers. It also brings people from varied interest, experience, and expertise...

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