Building Interaction in Adults' Online Courses: A Case Study on Training E-Educators of Adults

Building Interaction in Adults' Online Courses: A Case Study on Training E-Educators of Adults

Maria Pavlis-Korres (General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning, Greece & Hellenic Open University, Greece) and Piera Leftheriotou (General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning, Greece & Hellenic Open University, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9582-5.ch008
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Integrating the principles of adult education in online environment -an environment which empowers the engagement of learners and their active participation, promotes interaction and immediacy between educator and learners, as well as between learners themselves, and improves learning outcomes- is a very important task. In this task the role of the educator is crucially important and simultaneously very complicated and demanding, as the integration of adult education principles in an online environment is not an easy issue and forms a big challenge for each online educator of adults. This chapter focuses on building interaction in adults' online courses by integrating the principles of adult education in an online environment, and presents one case study on training e-educators of adults. This case study concerns a one-month intensive seminar addressed to e-educators who teach adult courses, demonstrating that online interaction is both possible and effective by integrating the adult education principles in online educational environment.
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Adult Education

Theoretical approaches agree that adulthood is not based on the age criterion, which anyway differs from one society to another, even within the same society, overtime (Brookfield 1986; Knowles 1980; Rogers 2002, 2007; Jarvis 1995). The elements, facts and conditions by which each society considers a person to be an adult vary depending on cultural, social, and biological factors. Evidently any group of people in a specific time and place may not share all the elements by which a person is considered an adult, therefore from the educational point of view we have to establish general criteria by which the status of adult will be defined. Among the criteria accepted by theorists are maturity, responsibility and autonomy (Rogers 2002, 2007; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999).

Connecting the theme of adulthood with the educational process, Rogers (2007) supports that Adult Education consists of all those forms of education where learners are treated as adults –capable, experienced, responsible, mature and balanced people. He states that all forms of teaching adults should respect and enhance the adulthood of those who have voluntarily become students.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Educator: A teacher for adults who teaches online (in synchronous or asynchronous mode or in combination of both).

E-Microteaching: Microteaching in an online environment.

General Adult Education: Includes all the organized learning activities that are addressed to adults and aim to enrich knowledge; develop and improve abilities and skills; develop an individual’s personality and active citizenship, as well as mitigate education and social inequalities. It is provided mainly by non-formal or informal education institutions.

Adult Education: Includes the entire body of educational processes, whatever their content, level or method, whereby persons regarded as adults by their society enhance abilities, enrich knowledge, improve technical or professional qualifications or turn them to a new direction. These educational processes –whether formal, non-formal or informal– are aimed at bringing about attitude changes and independent, full personal development as well as a balanced social, economic and cultural development.

Microteaching: A scaled-down teaching encounter which was developed at Stanford University in the mid-1960s to serve 3 purposes: (1) as preliminary experience and practice in teaching, (2) as a research vehicle to explore training effects under controlled conditions, and (3) as an in-service training instrument for experienced teachers.

Web 2.0 Communication Tool: Any tool which allows and promotes communication between participants in an online educational environment, e.g. e-mail, forum, bulletin board, chat, blog, wiki, video conference.

Educator/Educator of Adults: A teacher for adults. The term is used in order to define the different approach of the teacher, focusing on the dimensions of facilitation, co-learning, guiding and counseling.

Asynchronous and Synchronous Communication Mode: A synchronous refers to electronic bulletin boards, discussion boards, threaded discussions, forum, or electronic mail that participants can access at any time. Synchronous communication mode refers to “real time” interactions, in which participants communicate or “chat” at the same time.

Synchronous: In online education, the term refers to educator-learner interaction and communication that takes place at the same time through the use of technology, e.g. videoconferences, chats etc.

Asynchronous: In online education, the term refers to educator-learner interaction and communication that does not take place at the same time and thus permits learners and educators to respond to each other at their own convenient time.

Interaction: A dynamic process of communication in a learning environment, between participants who modify their actions, behaviors and reactions owing to the actions, behaviors and reactions of the interaction partners.

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