The Renovated Virtual Classroom: Adult Education Through Online Learning
By Joanne Elliott
In many professions, on-going professional development is critical to updating and improving existing skills, keeping up with new information, and also keeping one’s certification current. Indeed, there are many ways to approach professional development: workshops, continuing education courses, in-house presentations, and conferences. Much professional development is through in-person situations, but more opportunities are available through on-line means. With busy lives and full-time work, online professional development is increasingly attractive for working adults, especially as technology steadily improves, and further reaches into remote communities.
In adult education, or learner-focused education1 (andragogy), there are certain postulates that form the base upon which a course should be developed2. These include: 1) adult learners should be motivated and involved in their learning experience, 2) adult learners have rich experiences to draw on as a basis for integrating new ideas and learning activities, 3) the topics being taught must have relevance to the adult students’ lives and jobs, and 4) the learning process is more problem-centered and practical (and less content-oriented, vague, and theoretical). As a result, an effective adult learning environment3 is friendly, informal, flexible, draws on the collective experience of students, and is largely driven by the enthusiasm and commitment of students and teachers4.
All of these important criteria to adult education can be met through online learning. In particular, new technologies support learner-focused educational needs through such items as asynchronous discussion forums, practical assignments, interactive exercises, networking with colleagues from various locations in the world, and establishing their own learning goals. For professionals in the career management field, professional development for CEU’s can be achieved in-person through workshops, in-house training, and conferences, but also through relevant online courses and certificate programs. People in remote areas of the country or with busy schedules can continue to update their skills and address their certification needs.
For more information on e-learning options for career-practitioners, pre-approved for CEUs by the Canadian Counselling Association (CCA) and the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA), seehttp://www.lifestrategies.ca/training.cfm or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanne is an instructor for the Career Management Professional Program (CMPP) through Life Strategies (http://www.lifestrategies.ca/). She has many years experience with e-learning, and can be reached at email@example.com.