Technology as Integral to a New Paradigm of Adult Education

Technology as Integral to a New Paradigm of Adult Education

Judith Parker (Teachers College/Columbia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/javet.2010040102
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Technology and adult education are often discussed as two separate subjects, yet just as it is impossible to live one day without the impact of technology, it is impossible to discuss adult education without considering technology. The growth of the field of adult education and the evolution of modern technology as well as the theorists and practitioners who were instrumental in moving the fields will be considered in this article as the foundation for a paradigm shift in adult education. Since effective adult education involves not only information dissemination but communication and collaboration among its participants, online learning activities and entire online courses influence how the field itself is viewed. This new paradigm will be explored in the current and future world of adult teaching and learning.
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Adult Education Theory And Practice

While theory and practice are often discussed as two distinct silos in a discipline, in the field of adult education, Elias and Merriam (2005) articulate the need for theory as a foundation of practice. “Theory without practice leads to empty idealism and action without philosophical reflection leads to a mindless activism” (p. 4). Both theory and practice have evolved as a reaction to their historical context. Malcolm Knowles (1989) notes the continuing importance of adult education throughout and on history and described himself as being “part of a long and significant historical movement” (p. 72). Knowles (1989) credits a seminar led by Cyril Houle at the University of Chicago with initiating his own interests in the historical foundations of adult education. Building on Houle’s classic “The Inquiring Mind” in 1961, Tough’s seminal publications “Learning Without a Teacher” (1967) and later “The Adult’s Learning Projects” (1979) introduced the idea of self-directed learning and further influenced Knowles andragogical model. Tough’s (1979) discovery that adults were more successful learners if they knew the benefits from their learning and the negative consequences of not learning became one of Knowles assumptions about adult learners.

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