The Butterfly and the Adult Learner

flickr-2927140520-hd butterfly

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m fond of analogies.  Thus it was that as I reflected upon the last couple of weeks of our ADLT 641 Class, an analogy of the butterfly and the adult learner came to mind.  The butterfly is the outcome of a metamorphosis of the caterpillar as it emerges from the pupa.  The adult learner is the product of a transformation (dare I say, a type of “metamorphosis”) which occurs in the practice of self-directed learning on the part of an individual.  Much like the butterfly cannot be formed without the experience of struggle experienced by the caterpillar in the pupa, the adult learner cannot reach their full potential without the experience of struggle in the process and practice of self-directed learning.

This analogy stayed with me as I journeyed through the experience of putting together my Individual Project.  Having taken the course, “Power Searching with Google”, I wanted to apply some of the concepts of search to a topic which might be of interest to other adult learners.  I chose the Kennedy Assassination.  I also wanted to present this project through some form of digital media which I had previously not utilized.  It was risky because I realized from the onset that I would need a good deal of time to review the material from the course which was taken in late September and early October, as well as research the Kennedy Assassination and, in addition, learn how to create a screencast using Camtasia.  During the time I worked on this project I was also finalizing the presentation of my PLN.  Part of my PLN was a concept map on self-directed learning which was created in Cmaps.  Over the course of one weekend I downloaded a number of new programs onto my computer and registered for a free trial subscription of Camtasia.

Being not only a novice to digital media, I am also a novice to the effects of adding and downloading new programs to a laptop.  The result was havoc!  At one point, I couldn’t shut down windows at all.  Then, the computer froze up all together and wouldn’t cut off.  I almost panicked but I kept trying all sorts of things with my laptop until I was at least able to turn it off.  Forty-eight hours later, I was finally able to shut down windows. (Probably should have shut down windows after downloading and adding programs!) I spent several hours reconfiguring some of the settings on my computer, as well as backing up all files on my cloud drive.  In retrospect, that should have been done initially!  I wasn’t sure at this point if I would even be able to complete my project on my laptop. It was painful – but I was learning!

I continued working and finally completed my PLN.  As I started putting together the Individual Project, I discovered that my Google Tool Bars had been deleted – nothing appeared on the screen as I it had when I reviewed the material from the course.  After struggling for some time, I was able to reinstall the tool bar but by then I had lost so much time that I wondered if I would be able to finish the project.  I kept working; sometimes through the night.  I took several days off from work and continued tackling the project.  I considered revising my plan and using a format with which I was more familiar but I realized that I would never be satisfied with that.  It was important to me, at this point, that I complete what I started – whatever the end product.  I did accept that the screencast would hardly be of professional quality but I wanted the satisfaction of having acquired the ability to navigate through this new software and produce a final product.

Recording a presentation is challenging!  It is amazing what goes through you mind once you hit the record button!  Although, I had planned rather carefully what I would say and at what point, I lost my train of thought many times.  I started over . . . and over . . . and over.  Do you know when your palms sweat, you cannot manipulate the mouse on a laptop!  The obstacles I encountered became laughable.  Fortunately, I was able to laugh about all this, rather than cry.

I finally reached out to Bud Deihl to help me put the video together (here’s to working that personal learning network).  I had recorded many tracks and I was simply afraid I would lose everything if I started editing without some guidance.  Poor Bud, he must have been horrified with such an amateur production but he was nothing but a gentleman in assisting me with the video.  When I left his office, I at least had a final product.

On the Monday evening prior to the Wednesday I was due to present, I reviewed the presentation.  It was dreadful and I determined to record everything over again, even it took me all night.  By 3:00 am on Tuesday I finally had something I could live with.  Far from a high quality production, it was at least a product with which I could be satisfied.  Best of all, I had braved editing the video myself and managed not to screw up the whole thing.

I realized that even if the end product for my Individual Project was less than “high quality”, I had stretched myself as an adult learner.  I had set goals for myself and stuck with them despite the many complications and difficulties encountered along the way.  I learned much about technology and electronic devices in the process – most of which I had no desire to know but all of which will be helpful to me in the future.  My laptop is finally becoming a friend with which I am fairly well acquainted.  Though far from an expert in digital media, I am less intimidated with the various platforms and even relish the challenge to tackle new experiences in the future.  I am learning about all kinds of venues which I can incorporate in both my personal and professional life.  Most of all, I am learning what it means to be an adult learner.  Sometimes, there is struggle, a lot of struggle. It’s important to push through to the next stage of this ever onward journey.  I can’t help but see a reflection of myself in the butterfly as it emerges and spreads its wings; free to explore and expand its horizon beyond the safe, yet confining parameters of the cocoon.  Onward to ADLT 642!

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3 Responses to The Butterfly and the Adult Learner

  1. MelKoch says:

    Wally, thanks for sharing your project experiences with us! I know all of this can be frustrating sometimes, but you pushed through and did a GREAT job!

    • Thanks for the encouragement and for all you have done to inspire me in this class. I thought your individual project was amazing and demonstrated well your blogging expertise. I look forward to sharing more learning experiences with you in the future. So, you and Laurie are in a MOOC together?! Awesome! I think Britt has enrolled, as well. I know you will have a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to hear about it!

  2. lsniestrath says:

    I’m glad that you tried Camtasia and made a movie for your final project. It’s certainly challenging, to say the least. I can feel your pain as I used Movie Maker several years ago to take a long video of a class and cut it down to meet the specifications for a technology project. Phew! What a nightmare to say the least. The CTE, and Bud, really do enjoy helping adult learner. I imagine that the opportunity to share something that he loved was quite rewarding.

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