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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PIPD 3240 – An Existentialist Journey


 noun \-ˈten(t)-shə-ˌli-zəm\
:  An area of Philosophy that examines individual existence in the context of an uncertain universe and the plight of accepting the ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad – Paraphrased from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

In my typically flurry of activity to complete my blog assignment for PIPD3240, I found myself distracted by a philosophical bug.  As I reviewed my Blog posts, I found that they seemed to skip all over the place over topics that were interesting to me and caused me to ponder philosophical questions.
Self-doubt started to sneak into my psyche; fortunately, I was once again saved by the bard:
“Know thyself and to thine self be true.” ― William ShakespeareHamlet
This quote is often equated to honesty and I believe it holds true for adult learning.  As an adult learner, you are there by choice.  There are not any truancy laws for adults.  We have chosen to be here for a purpose.  Our reasons vary; however, they are all rooted in various goals and needs:

  • ·         To upgrade our education
  • ·         To acquire new skills
  • ·         Career change
  • ·         Interests/hobbies
  • ·         Intellectual growth
  • ·         Spiritual growth
T    The first step to adult education is deciding what course/program to take.  When deciding which course or program, we often have to ask ourselves:
What purpose will this course/program provide me with what I need to achieve my goals and needs?

  • Where is the course offered?
  • When is the course offered?
  • How Much does it cost?
  • Are there pre-requisites?
Once we have chosen the course, we need to ask ourselves what we need to do to complete the course and to get the most out of it.  For me, PIPD 3240 was a course I wanted to avoid.  I heard horror stories about it from others in my PIPD courses saying “stuff does not work”, “there is no direction”, “do the low tech, it is safer”, “there is no course content”, “I am glad it is over”.  I remember approaching PIPD 3240 with total dread.
In retrospect, I think many of us fear change.  Also many of us in the program have become instructors because we enjoy teaching a subject area we know about and have expertise in.  Our expertise gives us comfort, there is little risk, we ‘know our stuff’ and take pride in our strengths in this area.
All of this leads to a bit of an existentialist crisis and questions start to creep into your head such as:
  •  What am I doing here?
  •  What am I forgetting? 
  •  Am I the only one who is confused?

I then started having an internal dialogue between the PIPD3240 course and myself:
PIPD 3240:  “Hey, you know your stuff.  You are a smart, life-long learner.  Go out there into the World Wide Web, dig in and teach yourself how to engage your learners with all the online resources you can find”.
Self:  “Great.  This is the Seinfeld of PIPD courses… it is about nothing: it is what you create or interpret for yourself.  Even dogs are offered a treat when they perform tricks.”
PIPD 3240:  “What you have here is the ultimate self-directed experience.  You chose your option and assignments based on that option.  You can chose from a variety of options that complement various technological abilities and needs:
·         Social Media Learning Option
·         Creating Digital Material Option
·         Webinars
·         Low Tech Option

Self:  “What is the ‘right’ choice?  What is going to be useful to me?

PIPD 3240:  “The right choice is what interests/challenges you.  Stretch yourself, grow.  Tum Est (it is up to you).

Self:  “Tum Est can also be translated as ‘up yours’.  I guess I will just have to try my best”.

PIPD3240:  “There is no try, there is only do”.

Self:  Middle aged ‘exhale’.

As the weeks passed by, there was a lot of work.

I was required to read the text, Teaching Naked by Jose Bowen, and make journal entries.  I found this difficult because I am used to discussing books in class with classmates and my instructor to share interpretations and ideas.  In PIPD 3240 there is no discussion, you just read the book and post your journal.  The difficult part is of this is determining if I was supposed to write an academic interpretation or an emotion reflection.  The answer was both – I was supposed to use the “focused conversation model” which requires you to consider objective, reflective, interpretive and decisional interpretations.

Next came a deluge of Twitter, Facebook, Blog and Forum posts and comments (Social Media option) with assignment rubrics to guide me.  Slowly, I navigated around the forums, found the resources I needed (there are a ton of great things online) and got into a groove.  I periodically checked the rubrics for each assignment and asked my instructor questions when I needed to.  In the end, despite my ‘self’ I got it all done and realized I may have learned a thing or two.

Additional Resources:


Existential Crisis:

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