The Role Of Universities In Supporting Adult Learning


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  • CCL – Canadian Council on LearningCAEL – Council on Adult and Experiential Learning
  • Link Serving Adult Learners in Higher Education: Principles of Effectiveness
  • The Role Of Universities In Supporting Adult Learning

    1. 1. The Role of Universities in Supporting Adult Learning<br />June 2008<br />M. Gabriel, R. MacDonald, R. Doiron<br />UPEI Centre for Education Research<br />
    2. 2. The Research Project<br />Supporting Adult Learners @ UPEI<br />For Centre for Lifelong Learning<br />Through UPEI Centre for Education Research (CER)<br />By M. Gabriel, R. MacDonald, R. Doiron & D. MacKinley<br />February – June 2008<br />Research Aims<br />What does the current professional and academic literature suggest is the role of universities in supporting adult learning?<br />What are the barriers and opportunities facing universities wishing to enhance their programs and services for adult learners?<br />What are some exemplars of successful adult learning programs and services which could inform a UPEI strategy for supporting adult learners?<br />
    3. 3. Research Outcomes<br />Role of Universities in Adult Learning – a slideshow summarizing what how the professional literature describes role of universities<br />Barriers to Adult Learning – a slideshow summarizes what the professional literature identifies as barriers to adult learning.<br />Environmental Scan of national exemplary programs – chart prepared to summarize this.<br />Environmental Scan of UPEI’s activity – a slideshow to summarize this information.<br />Comprehensive Bibliography (many items annotated) of over 80 articles & reports consulted during the study. These are posted in pdf format and/or hyperlinked.<br />A comprehensive wiki to house all research products.<br />
    4. 4. Defining our Vocabulary<br />Post-Secondary Education (PSE) – <br />refers to academic, technical and vocational courses/programs beyond high school and provided by (public) universities, colleges, university colleges and some private institutions. Graduates receive diplomas, certificates, degrees. (CCL, 2007). <br />Adult learner –<br />1) twenty-four years of age or older; or 2) returning to school full or part-time after five or more years; or 3) a person who balances multiple responsibilities, such as a parent, spouse/partner, employee, homemaker, and student. Synonyms: non-traditional student, returning student, adult student, or re-entry student. (CAEL, 2007)<br />non-traditional learner - mature learners, recent immigrants, people with disabilities and Aboriginal people.<br />
    5. 5. Traditional University Role<br />We tend to say ‘higher education’ rather than PSE. <br />We do ‘academic/scholarly’ only. <br />‘continuing education’ operates as a parallel ‘service’.<br />Adult learning is about ‘low literacy’ and ‘trades training’. <br />
    6. 6. Pressures for Change<br />Economic Forces: Universities face increasing pressures to respond to market forces and technological opportunities, in the context of the competitive global economy and the consequent need for continuing education. <br />Social Factors: In tandem with the economic pressures are increased needs as communities become more socially active; participants are expected to expand their competencies and increase their capacity for change and renewal in their skills and daily life.<br />New Expectations for Universities: The combined economic & social needs lead to new expectations for universities and other post-secondary institutions to respond and take a lead role.<br />New Understanding of Adult Learning: There is also a shift in our understanding of adult learning toward a more inclusive definition to respond both to labour market demands and to the needs of civil society, and to meet the multiplicity of demands which come from a range of local, regional, national and international communities and organisations. <br />Universities within the Community: More and more, universities are called upon to address, both in their academic and research functions, urgent social issues such as health, newcomers, marginalized groups, non-traditional learners and the applications of technology in our communities. <br />Research and Learning: We see these influences played out in how new knowledge is being generated more and more through interaction with the community, our curricula/programmesare becoming more relevant to the life of the people and many new learning avenues are being opened up.<br />
    7. 7. Challenges & Responsibilities<br />Re-aligning/re-defining our Role: <br />Universities are becoming increasingly involved in the continuing education of the members of the communities they serve, whose main preoccupation seems likely to be focused on work and role-oriented studies. This is not to deny the importance of general cultural provision, an element of adult education which also will assume greater significance as people are able to enjoy more leisure time during their working lives and longer and more secure periods of retirement. The point of debate is simply how far work of this kind is a task for universities or whether it should be principally the responsibility of other agencies in the community.<br />
    8. 8. Challenges & Responsibilities<br />Lifelong & Lifewide Learning: <br />Post-secondary institutions are increasingly being called upon to transform their basic form and structure to become ‘lifelong learning’ institutions, which enable employees and unemployed people to access relevant learning opportunities at different times, in different ways, for different purposes, at various stages of their careers.<br />Responsive Institutions: <br />Lifelong learning institutions have to be responsive to the needs of different economic sectors and able to meet the training and education needs of adult learners in flexible and appropriate ways.<br />
    9. 9. Challenges & Responsibilities<br />Learner-centred:<br />In many ways, post-secondary institutions have operated as ‘islands’ within the Island (silos on the Island landscape) and the challenge will be to envision a ‘post-secondary system’ made up of individual institutions with many of their traditional roles but with a more collaborative, learner-centred focus on learning for high school graduates, adult learners, as well as older learners.<br />
    10. 10. Challenges & Responsibilities<br />Integrated Approach to Adult Learning: Research supports the effectiveness of coordinated and integrated approaches to adult learning:<br />Coordination needs to happen among government, public/private educational institutions, community partners, employers, and unions; <br />Coordinating the activities of various partners ensures better use of limited resources and more easily accessible programs/services for adult learners;<br />Coordination can streamline standards, credentials, innovative programs/services and better procedures for quality and assessment of programs;<br />Learners need to be part of the partnership in shaping programs, removing barriers, supporting diverse needs and achieving potentials.<br />
    11. 11. Principles of effective support of Adult learning <br />A comprehensive strategy built around a set of policies and procedures which will:<br />Strengthen Outreach<br />Support life/career planning<br />Address financial issues<br />Recognize academic learning and life/work experience<br />Develop multiple teaching/learning models<br />Strengthen student support systems<br />Use technology for information sharing and effective teaching/learning<br />Strengthen partnerships/collaborations<br />(Adapted from CAEL 2008)<br />
    12. 12. Our Dual role: Research & learning<br />Research Leadership<br />Barriers and motivations for Adult Learning<br />Effective and varied program offerings<br />Effective and varied delivery models<br />Workplace and employee needs<br />Leadership in Learning<br />Credit/non-credit options<br />Formal/informal learning opportunities<br />Online/blended/face-to-face learning opportunities<br />Outreach/collaboration/community connections<br />
    13. 13. UPEI’s Major contributions <br />Environmental scan of UPEI extended learning opportunities. (See<br />Our major activities:<br />Credit courses – degrees, diplomas, certificates<br />Non-credit courses – business, wellness, personal interest<br />Seniors services/programs<br />Increases in online and blended learning offerings<br />Informal learning – lectures, guest speakers, etc.<br />
    14. 14. What Other Provinces have done<br />Other provinces have moved to create integrated systems: <br />Campus BC, <br />Campus Alberta <br />Advantage NB Report (2007) recommends the establishment of NB Post-Secondary Education Commission<br />PEI (2008) – Island Prosperity: A focus for change; “innovation” , research, post-secondary education, “quality of employment”, and “innovative industries”. All point to the need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to PSE. If we are to be thinking of the Island as “one community”, do we not need to think of one system for PSE? <br />Is the time right for Campus PEI?<br />
    15. 15. Campus PEI<br />Campus PEI is not a place – it is a concept, a set of principles and a way in which the learning systems on PEI work together to deliver seamless learning opportunities for all Islanders.<br />Potential<br />Creates a province-wide learning community;<br />Connects existing and new learning programs in a one-stop access point for all;<br />Inclusive of all learner needs;<br />Provides learning opportunities in a variety of means and contexts;<br />Pools resources, strengthens partnerships, provides an exciting vision for learning on PEI.<br />