Sunday, 31 January 2016

Trends in Adult Education - Old Dogs Master New Tricks

A close look at trends in adult education reveals what some might call an epiphany while others may knowingly shake their heads -- learners and learning styles vary from person to person. As adults, we come to the table knowing different things (different than when we were in school, different from the other people we study with); our needs vary (based on time, style of information ingestion, style of expression); and our needs vary (learning curve with handling assignments, learning new technology, learning as islands).

Because education itself because formal and institutionalized, the formality and "rules" focu primarily on organizing people rather than information, and on generalizing rather than individualizing. Although the same can be said for children, adult learners benefit from personalized, project or results based learning where they maintain control over what they are ingesting and when.

This article by the Huffington Post Canada looks at some of the ways adult or continuing education could bridge Canada's skills gap by allowing adults the freedom to learn at their own pace, build on previous knowledge, get ahead of labour trends by supplementing or changing careers before downward trends occur, and taking advantage of new labour trends. Canada is looking at a major skills shortage over the next decade, meaning there may be enough people to do the work, but not enough people with advanced or experienced skill left in the field to pass along their knowledge.

Education technology does and will continue to play a huge role in how Canada bridges these skills gaps, allowing flexible, work-life-learn models where students can learn when and how they choose, and approach / seek out / tackle the skills they need while breezing by the areas they are more comfortable with.

Competency and portfolio based learning tackles traditional put-in-your-hours models for project and performance based review and assessment, which is also a key trend in employment. Students self-assessing, choosing modes of expression and learning that best suit their learning styles, and achieving by completing tangible projects puts the control into the learner's hands, removes the pressure of unsuited learning and assessment, and helps build confidence and real world experience.

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