Marquina Marie Iliev-Piselli

Graduate and Professional Work

Archive for Adult Learning

Some very positive feedback from a classmate:

I want to start by saying how impressed I am with your project. It is incredibly creative. Instead of cramming as much information as possible into a powerpoint, your group decided to do something radically different. In fact, I have never seen students utilize facebook for a school project. However, in addition to being creative, it was simply an intelligent move. To use facebook is to use a media format which our generation relies on, if not obsessed with! The discussion thread was a way to convey information by means of dialogue – a method Freire himself advocated. In reading through the posts, I felt that you had modernized Freire’s approach through using contemporary social media, yet staying true to his core message of opening dialogue.

Your project simplified the approach and made it easy to understand. I found myself getting frustrated throughout the course having the make meaning out of Freire’s rhetoric, however you had done a terrific job in simplifying his points without all the ornamentation which his writing comes with. Because of this I have a much better idea of social action learning. Thank you.

Mike Keller

Social Action Group Project: C

Welcome to our “Fakebook” Project. Throughout this interactive site, you will be introduced to some of the leading theorists/advocates in postmodern social action academia. In order to get the best experience from this project, please follow the below navigation recommendations.

Paulo Freire – Marquina M. lliev-Piselli
Bell Hooks – Lynn S. Sullivan
Myles Horon – Matthew Wallace
Max Weber – Samara Wallace-Noyola

I. Log on to the Social Action Discussion (located on the left menu margin below friends):
*Of course, the Social Action Group does not “assume” that “all” students have “access” to Facebook or the internet. If this is the case, please access the link below for the transcript equivalent:

II. Click through Social Action Group Members’ Profile Pages (located on the top right menu margin) Familiarize yourselves with the theorists’ educational backgrounds, notable works, brief biographies, relevant video clips/lectures, photos, friends et. al.

III. Re-Enter the Social Group Forum and Follow the Posting Threads beginning with Oppression Forum Moderator, Paulo Freire. Freire begins the discussion by welcoming forum participants (Weber, Horton &Hooks) and asks each to define “social action.”

IV. Continue Following the thread of conversation:
Definition of social action
Transition to critical pedagogy
Application of theory for pedagogical practice
Power analysis within the “status quo”
Examples of the cyclical nature of dominant groups
“Who” and “How” people are treated differently
How might one affect change

V. Assessment: Please access the Social Action Quiz ( and test your knowledge acquisition!

Thank you for visiting the Social Action Fakebook. Always remember….

“Feminism is for everybody”
— Bell hooks

“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”
— Paulo Freire

If people have a position on something and you try to argue them into changing it, you’re going to strengthen that position. If you want to change people’s ideas, you shouldn’t try to convince them intellectually. What you need to do is get them into a situation where they’ll have to act on ideas, not argue about them.
– Myles Horton

“The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the ”disenchantment of the world.” Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental.”
– Max Weber


Was quoted in this article: Making Sure They’ve Got the Touch

Making Sure They’ve Got the Touch
Published: 3/29/2011
By Siddhartha Mitter

On a wintry Saturday afternoon, Cameron Fadjo, a TC doctoral student in Cognitive Studies in Education, was teaching 19 TC students and staff members how to park a Ferrari. If they failed to steer it into the right spot, the car collided with a wall, and they lost points.

The Ferrari was virtual, of course—part of a two-day intensive workshop on how to write iPad and iPhone applications for education. Young children today are using these new touch-based tools from a very early age, but Fadjo, a former middle school teacher who spent two years at Apple before earning TC Master’s degrees in Instructional Media and Technology and in Educational Psychology, is part of a group of TC researchers who worries that the new technology isn’t being utilized to its maximum potential.

“When the tool gets into the classroom and it’s just meant to supplement a previous technology, that’s the concern,” Fadjo says.

The real promise of touch-based tools is the opportunity they create to enhance grounded embodied cognition—anchoring understanding of often abstract-seeming concepts in direct sensory experience. Studies by many researchers, including Fadjo and his advisor, John Black—TC’s Cleveland Dodge Professor of Technology and Education—have shown that grounded embodied cognitive experiences with technology dramatically improve learning and academic performance.

“The research on touch-based devices is as important as computer education literature was 20 years ago,” Fadjo says. “But unfortunately, there aren’t yet a lot of people doing work on cognition and gestural interfaces in education.”

Beyond covering the basics of how to program apps, Fadjo’s workshop—now in its second year—simply seeks to get participants thinking about the breadth of possibilities for using the new technology. At one point, Fadjo gave the group just 45 minutes to come up with app ideas to pitch to the class. An educational purpose was preferred, but not necessary.

Deborah Wraight, a TC Master’s student in Instructional Media and Technology, proposed an iPad-based classroom assessment tool that would be more convenient to use than traditional rubric charts and also allow teachers to gather more personalized information about students to more easily store and transfer that information.
Three employees from the TC Web office cooked up a plan for a handheld app that would give TC students access to everything from tuition billing data to campus events. Still other workshop participants suggested creating prep tools for the GRE exams.

The jump from brainstorming to making a “real” app can be rapid. Wraight said she intended to create her assessment tool as her master’s project, while Marquina Iliev-Piselli, a master’s degree student in Instructional Media and Technology, said that since taking Fadjo’s workshop last year, she had project-managed an app for Hollaback, a non-profit group that focuses on creating awareness of gender-based violence, that enables users to report and help crowd-source data on instances of street harassment.

Iliev-Piselli said she thought designing apps for education would be harder because the technology can be “such a quick fix. I play a game, I close it and it’s over. I’m not learning anything. As an educational device, it needs to be incorporated in a broader curriculum. You have to think about why you’re using this tool.”

To Fadjo, that comment was evidence that his listeners were thinking like marketers as well as educators—a critical requirement for bringing ideas to reality. “The market penetration for these devices is huge,” he said. “And the marketplace is open enough that entry is not prohibitive. It makes sense from the perspective of the TC student to be a part of this revolution in creating learning opportunities through touch-based mobile devices. These devices have the potential to be more than just fun and this workshop helps to guide students toward constructing this future.”

#4 Learning in Adulthood

I appreciate that Learning in Adulthood (M/C/B) attempts to give readers the social context of adult learning, technology, and the global economy. But the emphasis on capitalism and economic factors does not reveal a more recent shift in global attitudes.

On one hand, economists argue that globalization is not to blame for the increase in world poverty and inequality. For example, the world’s poorest in rural Africal & Asia are the least touched by globalization. On the other side social activists, well-educated observers, and those concerned with environmental issues believe that globalization is good for the rich within rich countries, and is bad for the poor in the poorest countries. (N Birdsall, 2002) With that in mind, it would be unfortunate if those who are served through distance education are mainly those with access to more advanced technology and resources – ie. the rich. If “globalization is linking the world through economics and consumerism” (Learning in Adulthood, p26) I am deeply concerned. Technology should not be used simply to turn a quick buck. It should help us create a more sustainable society.

In the Handbook (p.426) we read that instructional designers want to get “it” right – but what is “it”? One can argue that globalization has helped both rich and poor have access to more resources and better technology, but I believe the integration of technology at ever-rapid speeds is outpacing the development of a healthy, sustainable socio-economic system. We shouldn’t use technology to help us react, but to predict and plan. For example, we should be working on not only solutions to safely dispose of waste, but we should also use technology to think up and develop new ways to *create less waste* in the first place.

Luckily, there are many non-profit groups, activists, unselfish educators, and well-informed individuals who are using technology to create sustainable systems. Technology can bring people closer together, help people with different learning styles absorb information more easily, and be used as a vehicle to facilitate learning. Since this is the case, we should be able to work together and use technological advances to help us predict and prevent future calamities. Educators should use technology to help learners cope with a changing environment.


Merriam, S.B. and Caffarella, R.S., Baumgartner, L.M. (2006) Learning in adulthood. John Wiley and Sons.

Wilson, A.L. and Hayes, E. (2000) Handbook of adult and continuing education. Jossey-Bass.

#3 Freire

While reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I couldn’t help think of the spectacular fall of Egypts’ former President, Hosni Mubarack. Nearly everywhere newspapers have congratulated Egypt’s revolution, and I’ve read several instances where these headlines include the word ‘Finally!” Mubarack was a corrupt dictator and oppressed the people of Egypt. His rhetoric was paternal as he expressed in a speech the night before he stepped down ( His Presidency epitomized the notions of ‘the oppressed’ vs. ‘the oppressor’ that we read about in Chapter 1. And, the book gave me an interesting angle to think about how the next regime will rule Egypt. I’m hoping that in this case the ‘oppressed’ now that they have liberated themselves do not become the ‘oppressor’.  I am anxious to see if the “power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both (the oppressed andthe oppressor)”.

( I’m glad that the Egyptians no longer ‘accept’ their exploitation and have risen up against 30 years of top-down bureaucracy.
Separately, I am interested in the idea of the active education vs. the banking system of education. It is not a realistic expectation to think that Universities apply active education practices. For example. is common for hundreds of University students to sit in huge lecture halls at max capacity with their eyes glazed over as the professor runs through powerpoint slides. Creating a more active education environment requires much more time and effort. Public Universities are encouraged to graduate as many students as they can, so is unlikely that active education systems will dominate over the banking system. On the other hand, I believe students have the responsibility to take their educational experiences into their own hands. The should do more than sit passively in the classroom to be ‘filled’ with knowledge. Instead students should seek out ways to apply knowledge in new ways. Students should *not* allow themselves to be spectators who wait around for their minds to be filled. They should tackle problems and grow in the process. In essence, the oppressed must participate!


  • Freire, P. (2000) Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum Publisher


#2 Learning in Adulthood

The readings this week were interesting to compare and contrast. In the Handbook we read that professors in the 50’s were asking themselves philosophical questions about the psychology of the adult vs. the nature of adult learning (pg. 616) and by the 2007 in Learning in Adulthood, I was surprised to find out that there are actually ’30 things we know for sure’ about adult learning!

Overall, Learning in Adulthood provided a fantastic summary about ‘what we know about adult learning’ and provided the background so I could consider how ‘professionalization’ evolved per the Handbook. Both texts discuss the importance of context and socialization in adult learning. It follows that the distinction between childhood learning from adulthood learning is incredibly important because the learner himself/herself has changed. He/she has had many more experiences, so their ‘configuration’ p.423 M/C/B has changed, they view the world from another context – not just as ‘receiving’ information but participating in the learning process. The experiences are what separate the adult from the child learner. Life has different ways of creating a cognitive load on the adult learner. Adults have more worries about relationships, money, financial and social situations. The child’s life is bound by home and school, and is less complex.

The concept of ‘nonformal learning’ suggested at the end of the Learning in Adulthood text was thought-provoking. What is nonformal learning? Could it be, for example, learning how to program an open source project because you think it is ‘fun’ and not because there is any monetary or direct-professional gain? I’m left thinking about how learning occurs in nonformal settings all the time and how one might define it.


Merriam, S.B. and Caffarella, R.S., Baumgartner, L.M. (2006) Learning in adulthood. John Wiley and Sons.

Wilson, A.L. and Hayes, E. (2000) Handbook of adult and continuing education.

#1 Adult Learning and Education

My books for this course arrived sporadically and I read them in the order in which they arrived; first Freire, second WH, then third MCB. I mention this because the order in which I was presented these learning methods has resulted in giving me a feeling of ‘coming full circle’ on the idea of how adults learn. I did not need to read Freire for this assignment, but since I had only this book for the past 2 weeks I completed it. Now, I can’t comment on the other texts without thinking of topics of power, agency, knowledge and ‘oppression’.

Before reading Freire, I had never heard of him except for last year when a TC student recommended this book. Where I’m from in Michigan, there are several well-known educational institutions (Eastern Michigan University, for example) and many of them are known for their education programs, and yet it seems that no one had Freire as required reading.  I won’t be a spoiler for others in the class who haven’t read the book yet, but it certainly challenged me to look at our educational system more critically. It is from this mindset  – uprooted from my comfortable ideas about the goal of ‘education’; thinking about class, race and power – that I started reading WH’s Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education.
After reading Friere, the text seemed ‘heady’ and disconnected from individuals’ reasons for learning and actual learning experiences. As I read, the text described theories such as Critical Reflection and Informed Action, and I kept questioning who the intended learners were expected to be? Both our required readings for 2/1 touched on the fact that the 1960s and 1970s were a time when growth, change and education were stylish. People were expected to want to expand and stretch their own boundaries. Thus, the context in which people were writing about adult learning is important to consider. Most of the learners in the education system where middle class or upper middle class. This class structure was not adequately addressed, even when the authors attempt to “‘denatrualize’ what many have called our ‘common sense’ or what wer prefer to thin of as the values, norms, beliefs, experiences, and traditions shaping how we understand our acting.” (WH, pg 27) Much of the text discussed ‘Critical Reflection’ as a view of market realities and capitalism (pg. 35) and I was continually thinking back to ideas in Friere. I was continually asking myself who was being taught? What was their background? Why were they interested in learning?
This evening the final book, Learning in Adulthood, arrived. I was relieved that the models  presented in this text were able to transition my skeptical attitude leftover from reading the Handbook, and give me the confidence that adult learning theory is certainly grounded in thinking about the context and life situation of the learner. I enjoyed considering McClusky’s load vs. power model and considering ways in which an individual could alter the ‘balance’ in their life. In the end, I do not agree with McClusky’s theory and believe that desire to learn has as much of an influence as the balance of load vs. power. Someone who has the desire to learn will be more likely to seek out and retain new information than someone who simply has enough time (low load) and a lot of power (money to purchase Italian language lessons, for example). I enjoyed that this text was focused more on process. For example, on p. 101 the Transformation of the Person Through Experience seemed to make total sense to me.
In all, I know that the themes addressed in the readings are just the beginning of our quest to understand adult learning theory. These are my initial reactions as I try to work through my thoughts and feelings about topics of class, power, race, gender, etc. and think about how these elements affect education and learning. With all this going on in the background and, much of the time, out of our control I am left thinking ‘How can we effectively and consistently engage learners when there are so many factors involved?’ At present, I have mostly questions and look forward to working through them in an attempt to find solutions to present day problems.


Merriam, S.B. and Caffarella, R.S., Baumgartner, L.M. (2006) Learning in adulthood. John Wiley and Sons.

Freire, P. (2000) Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum Publisher

Wilson, A.L. and Hayes, E. (2000) Handbook of adult and continuing education. Jossey-Bass. (


I’m a second year student at TC obtaining an MA in Instructional Design and Media. I work full-time building Facebook applications at an NYC-based startup called Odyl ( I’m interested in mobile apps and serious games. I’m a founding member of the TC iPhone Development Group (TCiDG), have been a Research Assistant for Prof Joey Lee researching games for change, and have been a Teacher Assistant for iPhone boot camp with Prof. Cameron Fadjo.
Overall, my goal is to build apps for education and I am specifically interested in building educational games for adults. I have a couple of game ideas in the works and hope knowledge gained in this course will strengthen my research-based game design prototypes.
On a more personal note, I attended undergrad at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, my hometown, and currently live with my husband in Brooklyn. For fun, I think up kooky game ideas! but I also like to sing karaoke and compete in air guitar competitions. 🙂