Perhaps the most obvious impact of Covid-19 on the workforce is the surge in employees working remotely. Although the digitalization of work was already an existing tendency in the “digital era” we are living in, the pandemic situation has prompted the work from home (WFH).
In order to determine the extent to which remote work might persist after the pandemic, its potential was analysed in more than 2,000 activities used in some 800 occupations in the eight reference countries (China, France, India, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) in the McKinsey’s report “The Future of Work after Covid 19”. If it is only taken into account the remote work which does not imply a loss of productivity, the report considers that about 20-25% of the workforce in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week. In addition, it is expected that on average, office space will be reduced by 30%.
Of course, all these changes will affect many areas of our society. From the working schedule to the reorganization of workspaces and cities, remote working will also affect business travel, thanks to the spread of video conferencing and virtual meetings. However, undoubtedly the greater impact will be suffered by the workforce.
Will working from home be permanent for workers around the world?
During the pandemic crisis, changes have been implemented as well as the situation has allowed and employers and employees have made a great effort to adapt to it. Digital literacy is now critically important for the vast majority of workers. However, if remote work is to be a lasting reality some features must be taken into consideration.
Ritam Gandhi explains on DCD, that first and foremost, employees must be at the heart of any business strategy and must have the skills and tools they need to thrive in the workplace. Employees must be confident that their digital knowledge is up to date with broader industry trends, and that their skills will remain competitive in the face of an evolving labour market. Therefore, employers must invest in upskilling employees and ensuring they have the skills they need to thrive in the digital landscape.
Nowadays, the ability to use productivity software such as Microsoft Office products is already a minimum requirement for most occupations, so companies need to ensure that their employees, from entry-level staff to executives, are comfortable using them. Moreover, many workers will also require additional skills and expertise that may relate to a key task in their job role. Tailoring digital training based on the specific requirements of different groups will give employees the knowledge, skills and tools they need to reach new career milestones.
However, increasing the digital intelligence of a workforce cannot be achieved through a single initiative. According to Deloitte, employees at all levels expect flexible and continuous learning opportunities from their employers. The increasing demand for specialised skills as the digital world becomes more complex means that organisations must provide ongoing training to employees that has a real impact.
Undoubtedly, an existing generational gap has become clear between the younger and the older workers in relation to digitalization of work. The latter have experienced more difficulties to adapt themselves to working from home as many of them lacked the digital skills needed to do their job remotely. Thus, all the future measures to be taken regarding working from home and employee training must take into consideration the special needs the older generation of workers might have.
Lastly, remote working in recent months has highlighted the importance of having the right tools in place to make employees feel engaged and supported. According to Studio Graphene research, 29 per cent of workers felt isolated and out of the loop from the rest of the organisation while working remotely. Hence, in order to make remote work a reality, good communication becomes a condition to start.
The Internet is an unlimited source of knowledge and entertainment. In the situation caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Internet has become a tool to which we move our social life more often than usual. We participate in the largest quarantine (isolation) in the human story.
According to a consumer survey conducted by UKE in 2019, the average declared time spent online during the day ranged from half to two hours (children – 40.7%, adults – 42.2%). In addition, boys declared a slightly longer online presence. However, the age of the child is important in the respect. The amount of time spent online increases with the age.
The Internet gives access to a variety of services. Shopping, medical advice, banking and even training can, and even should be done without leaving home. There has been a huge increase in our online activity, and at the same time the number of phishing attacks has increased. The fake emails allegedly sent by telecommunications service providers or banks, or the recent big case with the digital school registers, are very common nowadays (more information on: http://cik.uke.gov.pl).
It is very important to be attentive and also to warn children about opening messages that they do not fully understand.
The role of adult is to be a guide for a child and to teach them the rules of safe use of the web. Adults who use the Internet by themselves, have a much better understanding of what children use the Internet for. However the rapidly developing technology also creates problems for adults. Sometimes it is the children who become our guides, so we learn from each other.
A consumer survey shows that the most popular online services among children are listening to music, watching movies and playing games. We often use educational platforms, instant messengers and social media platforms (children 56.2%, adults 54.4%). The least popular online activities among children are emailing (39,4%) and visiting news services (42,7%), these tools are most often used by adults. The survey data relate to last year. Due to the need to stay at home, this year we can observe an increase in the use of educational platforms, instant messengers and media monitoring.
The survey also shows which social media sites and websites we use. The most popular website among children is YouTube (72%). The service enables free posting, streaming, rating and commenting on movies. Here everyone will find something for themselves. The youngest users most often focus on YouTubers, i.e. the idols of modern youth. Adults benefit from advices videos.
Facebook came second (children 49.9%, adults 47.4%). It is a social networking website where users can post comments, share photographs and post links to news. We have the opportunity to comment and follow other users. Unfortunately, on Facebook we can meet with negative content and so called “hate” – social problem of 21st century (more information on: http://cik.uke.gov.pl).
Every fifth young Internet user uses Instagram (children 22.4%, adults 18.7%) or Snapchat (children 20.6%, adults 16.2%). Other platforms are not very popular. Nearly 20% of young Internet users stated that they do not use social media platforms or services.
Children’s online activity can often be creative. They easily create websites, blogs, and become a YouTubers. It should be noted, however, that excessive use of the Internet by the youngest, and thus access to content not adjusted to their age can be the cause of many dysfunctions.
The sleep disorder, problems with concentration, alienation, problems in establishing social contacts are just the examples. Children who spend a lot of time online are primarily exposed to addiction. Therefore, it is very important to maintain proportions. They shouldn’t spend more time on the Internet than doing other things.
And although quarantine forces us to stay at home, time spend in front of the computer should be not only fun, but also education. Many institutions provide e-learning platforms. We invite you to visit our website cik.uke.gov.pl, where in the education tab #stayhome, everybody will find something for themselves. For younger and older children we have prepared crosswords, cross-sections and interesting facts from the world of telecommunications. For adults the #TalkToChild series is a lot of useful articles, from which we’ll learn how to stay safe online.
It’s a difficult time for all of us. However, we can spend it effectively and creatively #stayhome.
In 2020 Ljudska univerza Rogaška Slatina, as all other educational institutions around the world, was faced with a completely new and unique situation when the pandemic started. As a result, all educational programs at the organization were stopped and employees were faced with a big challenge of how to go on and continue the educational process in all programs. At the beginning, our main goal was to at least stay in touch with our learners for which we used e-mails and regular post and were regularly sending them learning material and encouraged them to do some self-studying at home. Soon afterwards some of our lecturers started doing some online lessons, using Skype and Jitsi Meet applications, although there were quite many troubles with internet connection and the performance of both applications. Somehow we managed to finish the school year more or less successfully.
So when the summer started, we did not rest. We knew that there is a big possibility we will have to continue with this kind of education when the next school year begins in autumn. We were lucky enough that we received a free of charge access to several online teaching applications, such as Zoom, Microsoft teams and Moodle, from our Ministry for Education, Science and Sport. We used the summer time for training our lecturers in how to use these applications for distance learning. Our ICT expert organized several trainings for them and taught them how to use Zoom and Microsoft teams. At the beginning of the school year, when our learners came back, we also organized several trainings for those learners who needed gaining additional skills in using these tools.
So when the new school year began, we started online lessons for our formal vocational programs using the combination of Zoom online lectures and individual work in Microsoft Teams. We were quite surprised by the feedbacks coming from our learners in vocational programs, because they accepted the online learning in a very positive manner. They expressed a big satisfaction with this form of learning, because it saved them a lot of time and money, because they did not have to drive to their lessons. At the same time, the success in the final exams was not any worse as in previous years.
Naturally, it was a bit different in other, non-formal programs. The biggest problems occurred in some national projects, since the ministries in charge of certain projects did not allow some of the projects to continue in online form, so they had to be stopped completely for a certain amount of time, which caused some delays in carrying out certain activities and in reaching the set indicators. Such programs were programs with the Employment centre, where we are running a program for social activation of long-term unemployed people. We had to wait to continue this program until we were allowed to carry out face-to-face activities again, which was a big shame, since they are the population that needs these kind of activities and social inclusion the most. The situation was very similar with our programs for Slovenian language for foreigners.
Another category of learners that was at the biggest risk of being excluded was the big group of our members of the University for Third Age Rogaška Slatina. Since they are elderly people over 65, many of them did not have any ICT skills to continue their activities in online form, so we tried to keep contact with them through sending them telephone messages and learning material with answers through regular post. We were able to organize some Zoom lessons for members of English, German and Italian courses, as well as Yoga practices and computer courses, but there is still a big number of seniors that are not taking part in these online activities. Another problem occurred when we were allowed to have face-to-face activities again, because these elderly members, being a high risk group, were naturally too afraid to come back to classes.
A big change also occurred in the area of our international projects, since all the transnational project meetings and trainings were moved to online form. We believe this is a temporary solution, but we really miss face-to-face meetings, which give you more opportunity to share experience, examples of good practices and to get to know different cultures.
So now in the year of 2021 we have to do many adjustments from one week to another, according with the rules that come out every week. We continue to have all of our vocational programs in online form and in other programs we are making different combinations using online applications and face-to-face activities, depending on the current situation with Covid-19. At the moment of writing this article, Ljudska univerza Rogaška Slatina is closed down due to the total lock-down, but next week our doors will be open to the public again and some activities will begin in face-to-face form again. For how long, nobody knows, but let us hope for the best.
The potential of Online Learning for adults: Early lessons from the COVID-19 crisis
The COVID‑19 crisis has resulted in a significant increase in online learning by adults. Much of the training that had started as face-to-face in classroom environments has been pursued online. Furthermore, individuals are being encouraged to use the time freed up by short-time work schemes to take up new training. As such, the crisis provides a powerful test of the potential of learning online. It also highlights its key limitations, including the prerequisite of adequate digital skills, computer equipment and internet access to undertake training online, the difficulty of delivering traditional work-based learning online, and the struggle of teachers used to classroom instruction. This brief discusses the potential of online learning to increase adult learning opportunities and identifies some key issues that the crisis has highlighted. Addressing these issues could contribute to expanding online learning provision in the post-crisis period and to making it more inclusive.
The second quarter of the year 2020, strongly affected by the pandemic, was characterized by a reflection by EPALE, the electronic platform for adult learning in Europe, on Digital Skills. This reflection led to the development of a KIT entitled “2020: what a Year!Challenges and innovations from the EPALE platform “, with four thematic focuses that marked 2020.
In this KIt, particular attention was paid to basic and digital skills learning offer, as the pandemic has shown how never before as the large number of adults with low basic skills represents a major obstacle to an inclusive society.
The partnership of our project firstname.lastname@example.org, in continuity with what has just been said, has also worked during the recent months so that adult educators could have effective and innovative tools available to help adults, especially those with poor digital skills, to help them improving these skills, and to understand the importance of digital in their lives.
This has been the focus of our online training entitled “ICT TOOLS AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION”.
Due to the pandemic, the short-term joint staff training event was held online on the Zoom platform instead of Greece, in Kalamata as planned in the application phase.
It has been an interactive course of five days, that gave participants the opportunity to acquire new knowledge on how to transmit digital skills to adults with a view to inclusion and sharing.
This training course was an important moment of exchange and comparison at an international level between all the actors who are daily involved in this sector, and at the same time, it offered the possibility to those who are simply intrigued by the subject, to get an idea on how in the rest of Europe it is possible to involve adults in informal learning contexts and bring them closer to new technologies.
If you are interested in knowing more about the results of our project and the training material used during the training, don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our online platform @digitaladults.eu where videos and materials are available to consult or download for free.
The main aim of the Erasmus project LIDS (2019 to 2022) is to create a curriculum for learning digital skills for disadvantaged adults. Now in Dec. 2020 the first outcome is available: The LIDS Curriculum as a digital book in WORD- and PDF-Format containing a possible curriculum for these necessary skills. The LIDS curriculum can help the partners in digital@dults to find a complete list of necessary digital skills, which all adults should have.
Please download the full report – it is important for all education-levels in Europe. Here some ideas from the first chapter:
This report addresses digital education in Europe at primary and general (lower and upper) secondary levels for the school year 2018/19 in all 28 EU Member States, as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey, covering 43 education systems in total.
Digital competence in school curricula
There is a consistent approach to defining digital competence as a key competence across Europe. Nearly half of the European education systems refer to the European key competence definitions for digital competence: 11 education systems use exclusively their own national definition of digital competence (1); eight other countries (Estonia, France, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Austria, Albania and Serbia) use both the European definition and a national one (see Figure 1.1). In general, these definitions originate in curriculum or top-level strategy documents related to digital competence.
The development of digital competence is included in the vast majority of countries at all three education levels. However, unlike other traditional school subjects, it is not only addressed as a topic in its own right, but also as a transversal key competence. In primary education, in eight education systems (French and German-speaking Communities of Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey), digital competence is not explicitly addressed in the national curriculum in the reference year (2018/19), while in secondary education, this is only the case in two systems – the French and German-speaking Communities of Belgium. However, the French Community of Belgium, Croatia and Latvia are currently reforming the curriculum to introduce digital competences or are in the process of implementing ongoing curriculum changes as from primary education (see Figure 1.2).
In primary education, more than half of the European education systems include digital competence as a cross-curricular theme. It is addressed as a compulsory separate subject in 11 countries (2) and integrated into other compulsory subjects in ten countries (3). A quarter of the education systems combine two approaches (4), while in Czechia and Liechtenstein all three exist at the same time.
In lower secondary education the number of countries teaching digital competences as a compulsory separate subject increase to over half of the education systems. In upper secondary, the number of countries teaching digital competences as a cross-curricular topic decreases slightly in relation to lower secondary and fewer countries offer compulsory separate subjects for all students in this area. It must be borne in mind though that in upper secondary education, students can usually choose more optional subjects, and these can include subjects related to digital competence.
Iceland, Greece and North Macedonia have the highest number of recommended hours for information and communication technologies (ICT) as a compulsory separate subject in primary education (around 150 hours). Lithuania and Cyprus allocate the highest number of hours during lower secondary education, although they do not have any recommended instruction time for primary education. Within the scope of compulsory education, Romania has the highest number of hours related to digital competence as a compulsory separate subject in upper secondary education (see Figure 1.3).
Half of the European education systems are currently reforming the curriculum related to digital competence (see Figure 1.4). The revisions aim either at introducing digital competence into the curriculum where it had not previously been addressed or making the subject area more prominent. Some reforms are also about changing the curriculum approach, updating content or strengthening particular areas such as coding, computational thinking or safety.
The European Digital Learning Network – DLEARN – aims to embrace the challenges brought by the digital transformation in terms of digital skills mismatch and digital learning opportunities. The 47% of Europeans is not properly digitally skilled, yet in the near future 90% of jobs will require some level of digital skills.
We believe in the value of SHARING, CONNECTING, MULTIPLYING and ENHANCING the potential of our members, local territories and people.
Constant changes in economy and society have been urging governments to emphasize the contribution of education to a wide range of newly required skills and competencies. 21st Century skills are considered to be key enablers of responsible citizenship in a ICT-based economy.
A Successful education and training in our knowledge society depends increasingly on the confident,competent and innovative use of ICT.DLEARN wants to bring closer the experiences and voices of local territories and people to EU policies.
Nowadays this process is hindered by the presence of bigger interests, notably big corporations or umbrella organizations. With our activities and through our network we want to minimize this gap, through the promotion of bottom up initiatives, such as:
Closer cooperation and enhancement of our activities to a higher level through periodic project labs;
Tight networking activities and lobbying to achieve a fruitful accreditation of local needs to the relevant EU Commission DGs;
Improving existing experiences and knowledge of digital learning through sharing of practices and creation of efficient business opportunities.
Dlearn is a network made of members based all over Europe, related to the field of Education & Training and ICT. In the framework of our activities, DLEARN – in cooperation with some of the most influent stakeholders in Europe in the sector of education and training– promoted a survey to collect trends and ideas about the
future development in Education & Training, in the era of digital transformation. The initiative is part of the Digital Skills and Job Coalition’s pledge awarded to Dlearn, not granted by any public funds. Every professional acting in the fields of Adult education, School, Higher Education or VET has been invited to take up the survey.
With the survey “What do you think about the future of digital Education and Training in EU?”, our objective was to understand the point of view of professionals in Education & Training adopting a bottom-up approach, thus to collect a feedback that will be shared among all European Countries and EU institutions from people that daily deals with improvements and changes in Education & Training.
Action-oriented teaching in IT is a holistic, student-active teaching in which the action products agreed between the teacher and the students determine the organization of the teaching process. The aim is to balance the “head, heart and hand”, i.e. cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning of the students. It is not a didactic model, but merely a didactic-methodical concept.
1st Possibility: The action-oriented instruction in IT for adults usually starts from a concrete situation to the exercise (first step), to derive from it (second step) a general law or to explain a general principle (inductive approach).
2nd possibility: The action-oriented instruction in IT for adults could also be instructional learning. The teacher first explains the principle (such as being drawn), the lawfulness or the context, and then deals with individual cases in the form of exercises or examples (deductive approach).
Both methods of action orientation are used alternately in the course described above.
At the end of the course, the adult learners say: Not only do we know how something works, we can do it ourselves because we had action-oriented lessons.
Teaching Method:Discovering learning
Exploratory Learning (also known as Explorative Learning) is a method of acquiring knowledge as well as physical and technical skills. The focus of the consideration lies with the student and not with the mediation by the teacher. Its origin in recent times, the discoverer had learning in the lively teaching suggestions, which were also developed for younger ages.
Learning Discovery focuses on learning stimuli or learning arrangements that motivate self-active learning. Regularly reviewing existing knowledge and, if necessary, replacing it with current information is crucial for survival in today’s knowledge society.
The computer is the ideal tool for “discovery learning” because it immediately gives feedback on whether the activity was successful or not. A simple example is the marking of text to make it “bold”. One lets the students try on a finished text, how to mark and with which commands one can change the text. This will be quick and successful through discovery learning so that at the end of the lesson, the principle of changing the text attributes with the students has been worked out together. The student can always apply this principle later because it works the same way in virtually every program.
This method is possible for both children and adolescents, as well as for adults. This method works especially well for adults who have little or no prior knowledge.
This method is also good for learning ICT, because the computer responds immediately through the screen and indicates whether the command was successful or not.
Methodology: Cooperative learning
Cooperative learning refers to learning arrangements such as partner and group work that require a synchronous or asynchronous (via computer), coordinated, co-constructive activity of participants to develop a common solution to a problem or a shared understanding of a situation.
Cooperative learning is especially recommended for adults who already have previous professional knowledge and want to enter the job market, because co-operation in learning also means learning about cooperation in working.
The following peculiarities must be considered in cooperative learning:
Central to cooperative learning is that everyone is responsible for learning the group as well as their own.
Cooperative learning has two levels of responsibility: firstly, the responsibility of the entire group to achieve the group goals, and secondly, the responsibility of each group member to do their share of the work.
Both levels of responsibility must be integrated into cooperative teaching. This is achieved by measuring and reporting the performance of each member and giving the rewards at the team level. Studies show, however, that group affiliation and interpersonal interaction between students only produce higher levels of achievement when the positive dependency is clearly structured
Method of social inclusion: Learning by cooperative doing
Learning by doing is the most common form of learning in the lifelong learning process alongside learning by the model. Especially older people, who have a lot of life experience but have not learned new models and techniques, can eradicate existing deficits by learning by doing in the community.
The above-described project of Volkshochschule München has two objectives:
Older people learn new techniques to handle money. For this they must also learn the basics of computer technology.
Since these seniors do not learn alone, they can share in the group and open new relationships. This is a great way to integrate older people.
Elderly people become more secure when dealing with computers, allowing them to manage their lives without help.
The UNCEC United Nations Economic Commission for Europe rightly describes what efforts are needed to integrate the elderly. Here are some excerpts:
People live longer and healthier than ever before and have the potential to make important contributions to society, even in their old age. However, older people are often threatened by exclusion, marginalization and discrimination.
• Strengthening older people’s skills in policy
• Promoting the participation of older people in the labour market
• Promoting lifelong learning and education for the elderly, especially in new techniques and in new media
• Recognition of older people as a consumer group with specific needs, interests and preferences
• Considering the needs of older people in terms of housing, public transport and cultural activities
• Promote intergenerational relationships through positive media coverage and public image campaigns
• Promoting civilian engagement of older people and strengthening the role of volunteering
• Better quality of life for the elderly
• Increased social cohesion in society as a whole
• Achieving a society for all ages
Teaching Method: Holism
Holisticness in pedagogy refers to an integrative component of action-oriented concepts. Initial approaches are already to be found with the idea of elementary education, learning with the head, heart and hand. Based on reform pedagogy, holistic learning emphasizes not only the traditionally privileged cognitive-intellectual aspects but also physical and emotional-emotional aspects: holistic learning is learning with all senses, learning with intellect, mind and body.
This methodical approach considers the following example: PC Learning Café
In a casual atmosphere, the participants can sit down with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake at the PC and learn. Your questions will be answered by other participants or by a tutor. The special thing about these courses is that there is no compulsion and all learning achievements build on the previous knowledge.
Teaching-Method: Holism Learning
This methodical approach considers the following example: PC Learning Café
In a casual atmosphere, the participants can sit down with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake at the PC and learn. Your questions will be answered by other participants or by a tutor. The special thing about these courses is that there is no compulsion and all learning achievements build on the previous knowledge.
It is not to be underestimated, which advantages such a learning has:
Learning is voluntary.
Learning is fun.
Learning is not the sole purpose of the gatherings.
A meeting in a relaxed atmosphere helps with social integration.
The learner determines his own pace of learning by asking questions on the subject that interests him.
The learner determines the time and duration of the learning itself.
Research and new methods in hungary, elte university
There’s no denying the education sector is changing. As continuous education becomes more important for working professionals keen to advance their careers, how people access education is undergoing a revolution.
The way adults learn is very different from the traditional route taken by young graduates fresh from school. Their expectations, motivations, lifestyles and experience are different for younger students.
This brings new challenges to education providers in delivering and assessing education. At the same time, it offers great opportunities to innovate and reach out to a much wider potential student body.
In this article, we look at the key ways adult learners are changing education.
Shift in student demographic
People are now living longer and working well into retirement age. This means that there is a greater variety of learners wanting to upskill.
In the EU, the number of teenagers is projected to drop slightly from 2015-2030. Education providers need to reach out to other cohorts in order to remain sustainable into the future.
With almost more million adults having attended college without completing their studies over the past 20 years, there is an opportunity to re-engage these adults with education and grow the market.
Four million of these adults have completed at least two years of college, making them more likely to finish their studies if they re-entered formal education. Already most learners in higher education are not aged 18-22 as might be assumed.
Students entering further education straight from school might look forward to meeting new people and developing an active social life.
They expect a variety of extracurricular activities, sororities and fraternities. Meanwhile, adult learners view education as a place for professional networking which may further their careers in years to come.
In fact, 65% of adult learners say that they expanded their professional network through education. They are less likely to make extra-curricular activities a priority when it comes to choosing between course providers.
Convenience is an important factor in how adult learners choose education providers. Being able to fit in study around work and family commitments is crucial to their ability to undertake further studies.
Online courses and virtual classrooms mean that learners save on the time and cost associated with travel. However, this needs to be balanced with the accreditation and recognition of the course. Adult learners choosing courses for continuing professional development will expect their new skills to be recognized within their professional sectors and across organizations.
Continuing education may be motivated by a long-term goal of career advancement or career change. Testimonials from previous adult learners who have leveraged their education for career development can be a persuasive way to encourage adult learners to return to education or take further courses.
Experiential learning may be more valued by adult learners who want to see how the learning applies to their existing real-life workplace situations.
While school students may be more accustomed to a more passive form of learning for learning’s sake adult learners may be more likely to question how their new knowledge fits into to their professional lives. Course assessments can integrate learning into their workplace by using projects in the workplace to assess skills acquisition.
ELTE University of Hungary has implemented competency-based education (CBE) for the past five years. Students earn college credits based on their demonstration of skills acquired rather than hours spent in the classroom.
For a professional fitting further education into an already busy life, this option could be very attractive. Less time spent in the classroom away from work and other commitments may make accessing education more financially viable also.
Another approach to assessing adult learners is to give course credit through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).
For a student with years or even decades of professional experience accelerating their path through education to graduation using their existing skills makes sense. It recognizes that not all learning takes place in formal education and that “on-the-job” experience should be valued alongside more traditional models of learning and assessment.
These developments can be used to tailor courses to reflect individual learners’ needs instead of a traditional of a one size fits all model. Education providers need to be responsive to the needs of adult learners. This should be reflected in timetabling classes, communication and use of technology.
Adult learners are more likely to view themselves as partners in the learning process rather than simply recipients of learning.
Working professionals want access to education that can be applied to their role instantly so require bite-sized and relevant learning. Microlearning encourages learners to make learning habitual and track their progress as they go.
It has the added advantage of fitting in around adult learners’ existing work schedules. The rise of the use of smartphones means that accessing microlearning can happen while on the move, commuting to work, between meetings or even while waiting to pick up children at the school gates.
The success of the language app DuoLingo, with over 25 million users per month, demonstrates the public appetite for microlearning.
Impacting cost models
Unlike traditional degrees, education that attracts adult learners is short, impactful and relevant. The cost needs to reflect this. While some adult learners may be fortunate to have employers footing the bill, others, particularly those seeking a change of career or re-entry into the workforce, will be paying their own fees.
Beyond the fees, there are other hidden costs associated with further education, including books, travel and additional childcare costs. Unlike younger students whose college experiences are as much about socializing as education, mature students may be more results focussed and will want to see a return on their investment sooner rather than later.
The University ELTE eVersity program allows students to take one class at a time, charges a standard rate for credit hours and includes the required textbooks in the cost. This allows students to budget for their courses and pay as they go.
Technology is crucial
As digital technologies are now a normal part of the workplace, employees need to know how to use digital relevant to the role and for those that are comfortable with technologies expect it to be part of their learning experience.
Technology underpins many of the aspects which make education more widely accessible such as certifications, CBE and microlearning.
Conversely, developing supports for adult learners who are not digital natives or lack access to it will be required, especially if their recent work experience has not required much use of technology.
Adult learning requires greater collaboration
In order to know what adults and working professionals require educators need ties to both industry and government.
Developing partnerships between employers and educators will mean education tailored to the needs of the workplace. For adult learners, this reassures them that the courses they take are relevant and up to date. Buy-in from employers could have the added benefit for adult learners of accessing financial support to finance their studies. Creating links between education providers and industry can facilitate work placements for students and allows industry experts to contribute to developing course materials.
The South Korean city of Suwon with assistance from its universities, guarantees libraries within 10 minutes walk of every citizens’ home as well as learning facilities slightly further away at 20 minutes walk. Having access to education on their doorstep reduces two of the main barriers to further education, time and travel cost, opening education to students of all ages and income levels.
The days where education ended when students graduated in their mid-twenties are long gone.
Professionals of today recognize that lifelong education is crucial to both career and personal development. Continuing learning in adulthood has been shown to contribute to better physical and mental health, increase the likelihood of having higher paid jobs and more active citizenship.
In order to thrive in this changing marketplace education providers need to put themselves in the shoes of their target customers, experiment with new ways of assessing students and giving them access to education in innovative new ways. By doing this they can broaden their appeal to a much wider market.