Professional Learning Plan

My professional learning plan is really not a plan but a commitment to a lifelong passion for learning. The following five steps are my best attempt of formalizing the process that I follow:

  • Analysis of diverse information sources for trends and opportunities
  • Intrinsic motivation – Starting with Why
  • Total immersion, real world experimentation, and application
  • Integration, sharing the results, and moving onto new opportunities

The following video captures the essence of my passion for learning that started at very early age .

Video Not Suited for School but Suited for Learning

“I spent most of my class time in a school library…total access to the schools educational technologies. In a very short time there wasn’t a book, filmstrip, record, recording watched or listen to. I was hooked. Those technologies became a gateway drug to a world of learning ; a world that I controlled.”

Historical Context

This passion for learning started well before I started elementary school and had it roots in the only readily available information database that most children in the late 50’s and early 60’s had access to in northern Alberta—the World Book encyclopedia. My parents purchased a complete set when I was just an infant and I learned how to read by first having my parents and siblings read to me from the encyclopedia and then by reading myself. By the time I had to go to school I could already read fluently and had worked my way through the encyclopedia up to the volume “T”. I was initially furious with having to go school because it interrupted my learning and I was required to work at the pace of my peers.

Because I was functioning at a very different level than the rest of my classmates I became a source of classroom distraction and spent most of my elementary and junior high years isolated either in the corner or back of the class and then eventually out in the hallway just outside the classroom door and then finally relegated to the school library or detention hall. On the positive, this isolation enabled me to breeze through my coursework and then spend the rest of my time exploring the world of information available through the school’s library and media resources. The other key positive aspect to these early years was that my horizons were significantly expanded by the the diversity of information that even this small town school library had to offer.

I am not able to identify a key moment when I realized that I could learn anything that I wanted but it is the way that I have been immersed in lifelong learning since a very early age. In my early years, this process of analysis, intrinsic motivation, immersion, experimentation and application and then integration and sharing enabled me to become proficient at outdoor survival, motorcycles, hockey (and many other sports), weight training, audio and photography and too many other interest to mention.

Analysis of information sources for trends and opportunities

I continued the process of information analysis in my early adulthood and by the time I started my academic career in the early 90’s I was able to apply this process more broadly and identified the emergence of the early internet, online learning the explosion of educational technologies. More recently I saw the emergence of smartphones and their potential for mobile learning and now am exploring the significance of the Internet of Things, Big Data and creating significant learning environments. The following list of posts point to examples of either reflection on the information analysis, trend spotting or the identification of some of my my favourite sources:

Intrinsic motivation – Starting with Why

From my earliest memories I recall having an almost insatiable curiosity about everything in the world around me. This often got me into all sorts of trouble because this curiosity was also combined with a significant distrust of anything that I couldn’t personally validate or verify. Most teachers viewed this natural curiosity and desire to validate my knowledge as a lack of respect for authority. Fortunately, I was as strong enough or perhaps stubborn enough to deal with this daily conflict in school and by the time I got to high school followed the motto “I want to know what was – NOT what could have been”. As I have matured I have capitalized on strength of my intrinsic motivation for learning and learned to broaden the context of my desire to point that I am now able to effectively share my passion for learning with others. Simon Sinek’s argument in the famous TED Talk that people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it has been the most recent media tool that I have used to help others to move toward the importance of starting with why.

The following post address the importance of intrinsic motivation and the importance of creating the right context for the learning environment by address the Why question:

Total immersion, real world experimentation and application
This is the place where I have moved from talking the talk to walking the walk. So many aspects of my personal and professional career are characterized by my total commitment to a real world application and experimentation. My doctoral work Development and Evaluation of Inquisitivism as a Foundational Approach for Web-Based Instruction involved the development of an approach for web-based instruction while I was teaching several courses online. My move to Abilene Christian University (ACU) represented and even more significant commitment to a real world application of mobile learning because it involved an entire University and then as the research work contintued two additional institutions. The ACU adoption cycle was fully realized once all students, faculty and staff were using a mobile device:
adoption cycle

The following post provide examples of real world experimentation and application as well as several reflections on the lessons learned in these situations:

Integration, sharing the results, & moving onto new opportunity
Lessons learned are not valuable until they are shared with as many people as possible. I have shared my research and experiences with thousands people at hundreds of conferences, workshops, webinars, guest lectures and in the many classes that I have taught. In addition I have published many articles, chapters in books and have also been blogging about my experiences. The following links are to examples of work that I have shared over years and the many reflections and connections that I have made: