Adult education, also known as continuing education, is a broad term for the practice of teaching and educating adults.
“Education specifically targeting individuals who are regarded as adults by the society to which they belong to improve their technical or professional qualifications, further develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge with the purpose to complete a level of formal education, or to acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies in a new field or to refresh or update their knowledge in a particular field”. This also includes what may be referred to as ‘‘continuing education’, ‘recurrent education’, or ‘second-chance education’’(UNESCO, 2011). Adult education is an opportunity to get an education (special skills) for those who have missed it at their early age or those who want to improve his/her skills according to the needs of current trends. It is said that adult education starts at the age of 17 years and above but adult education is not bounded under age restrictions.
Trends and Issues in Adult Education
In adult education, there are different approaches, trends, and issues in learning than regular schooling. Most adults want to capacity building through special courses or market demanding courses to fit according to current trends and developments. In Pakistan, Allama Iqbal Open University and Virtual University providing distance education is the modern trend. Besides these, a lot of other international universities offering degree programs to meet the needs of adult learners at a distance.
Capacity-building measures are also important to increase participation by stakeholders, including stakeholders from civil society. More research is needed to reform new policies in the field of adult learning so that they target not only income and productivity in the market, but also consider wider personal and social benefits. Besides other developments, it would be immense work to facilitate adult learners in different aspects morally and economically. The regime should make policies (laws) to best suited to adults learning programs (courses). Job holders have given sufficient scholarships and leave from organizations, establishments, or administer without any delay for further study courses.
Five ways to promote adult education
1. Distance Education
Distance education is the most convenient and cheap way to learn at doorsteps. It also provides opportunity for those who can’t leave their homes by social/religious constraints. Open Universities and institutions are providing quality education in specialized fields quite affordable charges or even free courses and degrees.
Advancement of education and technology, it is hard to include all new changes (advancements) in formal education. The giant goal of this study is “Distance education can be used by people of all ages”(NIBS May 23, 2014). There are no boundaries for distance education, it is free of any restriction like age, religion, region, and gender.
2. Job-oriented Continuing Education and Training
A lot of professionals (jobholders) are looking towards the opportunities for advanced studies that may help them to adjust them according to the modern trends and advancement in their particular career they employed or for the distinction (promotion) posts. Many of them are unable to fulfill their desires accordingly because of unwanted or immoral restrictions by organizations (administrators) or sometimes by the lack of resources. Organizations should keep in mind, if their professionals get advanced knowledge/skills, it would be more beneficial for organizations also.
Employers are not friendly with employees, in spite of giving favor to employees they create hindrances. It is a common observation that job holders face hindrances in obtaining NOC (no objection certificate) and leaves for specific periods.
“We must now take into account the context of today’s knowledge-based society, globalization, technological change, and the increased complexity of social and working life” (APAECET, 2002). There should be a flexible option for professionals to get further education, skill development, and refresher courses (trainings).
3. Mobile Learning
The technology that makes mobile learning possible also provides opportunities for adults to use advanced learning technologies. It offers freedom in the study without limitations and boundaries, no classroom, no planning, no policies needed. It makes learning accessible to adults anytime, anywhere with advanced learning technologies like videos or virtual reality. Including modern devices newspapers, books, magazines also promote mobile learning. It is a modern way that attracts adults in the learning process and promotes adult learning inefficient way.
“Smartphones and tablet computers, as well as other ultraportable devices, have already gained enough critical mass to be considered mainstream devices, being present in the daily lives of millions of higher education students”. (Jorge Brantes Ferreira, 2013).
4. On-demand Learning
There are lots of adult learners who are interested in gaining new knowledge (courses) that help them to advance their skills to current needs/demands. For example, day by day innovative technologies are introducing rapidly, so for old computer or engineering graduates they did not study the modern trends, how they can apply them in their occupations? On-demand learning gives an opportunity to those who want to upgrade their capabilities according to their necessities. It would be the short training may for one day, two days, week or maximum for a month.
There is no concept of on-demand in third-world countries in public sector institutes but a little in the private sector that is so expensive and everyone cannot approach them easily. The administration should encourage on-demand learning courses and easy convenience for everyone.
5. Personalized Learning
Personalized learning is an approach for experienced, skilled, and adept learners in their specialized fields. It provides an opportunity for getting contemporary knowledge in self-directed goals. “Their definition incorporates aspects of social and emotional learning; student ownership and greater say in “what, how, when and where they learn”; tailored “objectives, approaches, content, pace, and tools”; and “high expectations” for each student”. ( Dian Schaffhauser, June 2018).
Adult learning trends have been moving away from a lot of hand-holding, and toward an atmosphere of accountability. Since adults require learning at their own discretion and that works within their busy schedules, self-led learning is more ideal than traditional classroom-style education. It allows adult learners to be proactive in their educations, and to contribute to the learning process.