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on March 18, 2006
This book was an assigned text for a seminary class, which is the only reason that I read it. I have a degree in secondary education, so I spent considerable time during college studying these types of concepts, though the terminology in this book was new to me. I began this book with a chip on my shoulder about the psychobabble that seems to dominate many discussions about pedagogy, and she certainly reinforced several of those irritations. For instance, she spent considerable time describing the futility of lecture. I realize that lecture has significant limitations, but I think it is a silly overgeneralization to disregard its potential entirely.

Beyond this ideological dispute, my primary complaint about the book is that it is dreadfully dry. Vella is long on theory and short on inspiration. She may have some good things to say about teaching, but if the experience of teaching is anything like this book, who would want to do it!!

Having said these things, she was able to redeem herself on several levels. She provides some great tips for allowing learners to actually learn. Some of that information is summarized in several helpful charts. Her explanation of time management was particularly insightful. Specifically, I am compelled to make sure that I stop trying to fit too much "What" (content) into the allotted "When" (time slot). There is clearly some good stuff in this book; it is just a shame that it is so boring to find those nuggets of wisdom!!

By the way, how can a 130-page book cost $34? That is a crime. For that reason alone, I wouldn't recommend this book.
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on February 10, 2002
When you are teaching a class of adults, do you find yourself wondering if the class is getting the information? Do you wonder if you are talking too much? These are questions for all adult educators, and this book is a good first start. It teaches the use of learning tasks rather than lectures.
Jane Vella is a trainer and an adjunct professor. She has written past works on adult training and, at times, refers to them in this book. The cultures and educational backgrounds of students she has taught are many, and she uses that experience. These techniques will help educators work with that.
The book is a short piece that has an easy tone. The beginning educator can easily access this without being caught up in theoretical discourse. This is designed for use rather than reflection. Likewise, Vella gives plenty of examples to walk you through the different steps in planning learning tasks. In one example, she discusses an online history course. Rather than have the student read the test and answer questions (basically enforcing rote memorization), the example asks the student to investigate how the US president gets power through the Constitution. The question is more of an open question that invites exploration rather than a closed question that asks for a parroting of the answer.
Unfortunately, not all of the steps are explained clearly. In some places, there is no example to illustrate the point. In one instance, she mentions there needs to be critical feeling in the lesson. This sounds like a great idea and probably the point that requires the most explanation, but there is no example to make sure the reader follows the writer.
There is also, in my opinion, a bit of bombast. Towards the beginning, Vella mentions graduate students she works with who have trouble with their dissertations. She proposes that they would have no trouble at all if they had learning tasks since preschool. Why is this in the book? If students were lectured on dissertations since preschool, I think they would have success in writing a dissertation in graduate school, too. Because this statement is in the beginning, it makes me wonder if she believes she has a system or idea that will sell itself.
Nonetheless, Vella�s book is good for the new instructor or the instructor who feels there must be a better way than lecturing; in contrast, the book may not be a good investment...
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on November 14, 2007
Taking learning to task is an excellent resource for any adult educator. The author recognizes the power of dialogue and demonstrates how to leverage that power in clear, practical steps. Taking all of her books together, Vella shows us how to create interactive environments that encourage deep and transformative learning. The book is based on solid adult education theory yet she does not burden the reader with a lot of unnecssary educational jargon; she cuts to the chase. Instead of just talking about the virtues of theorists such as Freire, she shows us how to do it. Furthermore, Vella writes from extensive cross-cultural experience which makes this book even more valuable in our globalized society.
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on August 8, 2014
Used for my college class and got it for a great price
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on February 3, 2015
good review and evaluation of education
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on December 23, 2015
Very please
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on February 28, 2001
I think this book is a must for all people working in the field of adult education. Jane Vella has a unique way to give new life to old concepts, and to make us rediscover the basic principles to be used when designing and leading trainings. The concept of learning task Vella offers into this book it's a powerful tool for creating learning experiences that are going to make a difference in partecipant's life.
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