Garry Worger

retired teacher

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Education Innovation & the Change Process

I was a teacher at a technical college for 30 years. I experienced (& embraced) 3 different teaching/learning "paradigms" during that time.
1. Self-study math with Computer Managed Learning (CML)
2. Mediated Apprenticeship training with CML (early 1980s)
3. Software training using self-study & graduated exercises
They all "worked" in that students achieved competency, although the timing of that was varied.
#1 & #3 "failed" in that they were not embraced by the majority of instructors. In fact, they were finally buried and forgotten, in spite of the "proven" superiority (mastery and reduced time).
#2 was implemented & tested via a highly structured and rigid experimental process. It was so potent as a LEARNING process that it has become the accepted way to deliver Apprenticeship training in Alberta.
My take on the difference between the 3 outcomes (2 failed & 1 unbelievably successful) is that the successful project used a potent Change Process methodology to train the Provincial Apprenticeship Regulatory Personnel, plus teachers/administrators/students in the heavily-mediated, student-centered, mastery-based educational process.
My experience has convinced me that educational innovation ONLY works when the totality of the learning milieu is identified & mechanisms set up to effect change.
Otherwise, insecure (ego-driven) teachers reject their new identity as "learning trouble-shooters" & continue with their give-a-lecture, assign-homework, test and move on teaching style. On the other hand, many teachers were surprised and delighted at the superior learning that occurred and changed their teaching style.
Perhaps I'm being unjustly harsh with the "insecure" & "ego-driven" characterizations.
I found that Time was the major variable that distinguished between different students and their ability to achieve Mastery.
A caveat: my experience is with technical education. I'm not sure how this would work with Philosophy or Art or ??

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    Apr 12 2011: Can you direct me to more information that explains #2 and how you used it in Alberta? Ever since watching Salman's talk, I am seeing ways to apply it or aspects of it in different contexts. I'm fascinated to learn more.

    Also, how would you compare your #2 with what Salman is doing? Where are they similar and different?

    Lastly, when you say that you "found that Time was the major variable that distinguished between different students and their ability to achieve Mastery.", do you mean that everyone achieved mastery just at different rates? That is what Salmon has discovered in his work.