Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flying thru Social Learning Theory

My life-time flying experience is fairly limited: senior trip to Disney in high school,  a 1 once a year training trip to Ft. Lauderdale with my college swim team, a vacation to California 15 years ago when I first started teaching, another vacation 13 years ago to the Dominican Republic, an Edmodo-sponsored trip to Edmodocon last August, and now, a trip to CUE 2014 in California sponspored by Curriculet. Having always flown with someone else, most recently Liz Calderwood, I always followed the lead of others. This time there is no one with me, and I have to rely on all that I learned from LIz and figure out what to do based on what I see everyone else doing.  This is social learning in action.

I’m not a herd animal, but I am always watching what others do. I am fiercely independent (rather appropriate considering my birthday) and I rarely like being told what to do (just ask my husband), so this experience of flying on my own is an experience in social learning: I must follow the rules and protocols of the airline business or I will not reach my destination, and the only way to know the rules and protocols is to follow the leads of others.

Thinking about prestige-bias as an adult learning in a new environment, I was selective with who I modeled. As a professional adult on a business trip, I was not going to model my behavior after young children, but instead those who looked like they were also business travellers. As I boarded the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the terminal falling in behind the woman in front of me and watching her place her bags, I first realized what I was doing: I was observing her behavior and mimicking it.  After disembarking and entering the terminal, I used what I remembered from my last trip with Liz to locate a check-in kiosk and confirm my flight--recalling retained information.  Then as I stood in the security line, I craned my neck to observe the scanning procedures: what needs to be in the bin, where do my shoes go, what can stay in the bag.

There is the stress of making sure I perform well-- while I can make some mistakes, if I don’t pass this “test,” I will not be able to continue on my journey--exactly aligning with the threshold guardians of the Hero’s Journey motif (not that I’m calling myself a hero-- oh no!). The Hero’s Journey motif is a journey of transformation and growth, and through the process of the journey the main character evolves. In my case, I’m evolving from an inexperienced traveller to a capable frequent flyer.

Speaking of social learning, I am documenting my trip for the folks back home-- my family and friends will know I’m safe by my myriad of Facebook posts and Tweets, and my students will feel my virtual  presence in the classroom as I share my travelogue on Edmodo. So not only am I demonstrating social learning, but I’m also letting others learn socially from me.

Sitting in the airport, I make the most of the free wifi
and stay in touch with my students on Edmodo.

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