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Trends in Adult Education

on December 10, 2013

Adult education is a field which responds quickly to the changes happening in the world. The past several decades has seen a great unending trend of globalization, which has left and is still leaving great impact on the development of adult education. With the broadening and deepening of globalization, having an international education background is becoming more and more necessary and important in the job market. The dizzyingly rapid development of the internet and digital technology offers greater convenience for better experience in distance communication and distance learning. The research and study of various learning theories over the years has provided us with theoretical foundations for diverse teaching approaches and learning styles to coexist to meet different kinds of learning demands. With all these factors at work, the appearance and quick development of MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, is nothing surprising or hard to understand. Although it may not become mainstreamed very soon, it certainly represents a great trend nobody in the field of adult education can afford to overlook in this digital era. As practitioners in adult higher education, we surely need to get well prepared to welcome this developing trend. Of course well-laid solid foundation of professional knowledge will always come first. Without that no one can survive in this fiercely competitive field. Second, whatever specific field you focus on, lifelong liberal education is always necessary for an adult education instructor as those grand classic works can certainly help one gain great insight into and better understanding of humanism, which is very important in understanding learners’ needs and in properly communicating with learners. It can also help us keep an open and broad mind to cooperate with other colleagues and even professors from other universities or institutions as in my understanding MOOCs will surely call for collaboration among instructors to achieve a win-win situation. Third, searching for information by digital means and discerning useful from trash information is also essential for post-secondary instructors. Therefore, a MOOCs instructor needs to keep up with and make good use of internet development and digital communication skills. All in all, in order not to fall behind in this new trend, we adult educators need to be lifelong learners ourselves and keep updating our own knowledge.

While probably MOOCs will evolve into a very important part of adult education, it will not be the only dominance in the field. In my opinion, adult education has always been and will stay a field of great diversity of teaching and learning patterns. With the advancement of science and technology and the development of globalization, more and more people around the world are realizing the importance of lifelong study and are becoming lifelong learners though with quite different learning needs and different approaches to meet these needs. As practitioners in the adult education field, we are supposed to get well prepared and try our best to serve those needs. Hard as it is, we are going to take that challenge, aren’t we?

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