Picture of Mandakini Pant
Key terms
by Mandakini Pant - Wednesday, 22 January 2014, 2:04 PM

Dear Friends,

A very warm welcome.

The first Unit "Historical Foundations of Adult Education” is very important, as it forms the foundation for the remaining five units. In this Unit you will gain an understanding of emergence of adult education as a field of practice.

But before we proceed to understand the most influential social, economic, and political factors for adult education, it is important that we comprehend the following key terms.

1. Adult Education

The term refers to thepractice of teaching and educating adults. This denotes all forms of non-vocational adult learning, whether of a formal, non-formal or informal nature. This is often done in the workplace, or through 'extension' or continuing education ' courses. The practice is also often referred to as 'Training and Development'.

Educating adults differs from educating children in several ways.

  • One of the most important differences is that adults have accumulated knowledge and experience, which can either add value to a learning experience or hinder it.
  • Another important difference is that adults frequently must apply their knowledge in some practical fashion in order to learn effectively; there must be a goal and a reasonable expectation that the new knowledge will help them further that goal. One example is the proliferation of computer training courses during the 90’s in which adults (not children or adolescents), most of whom were office workers, could enroll. These courses aimed teach basic use of the operating system or specific application software. Because the abstractions governing the user's interactions with a PC were so new, many people who had been working white-collar jobs for ten years or more eventually took such training courses, either at their own whim (to gain computer skills and thus earn higher pay) or at the behest of their managers.

    A more general example is that of the high-school dropout who returns to school to complete general education requirements. Most upwardly mobile positions require at the very least a high school/secondary school diploma or equivalent. A working adult is unlikely to have the freedom to simply quit their job and go "back to school" on a full-time basis. Community colleges and correspondence schools usually offer evening or weekend classes for this reason.


2. Adult Learner

An adult learner participating in adult education is over 38 years and who are no longer undergoing initial education within the formal school or higher education system of the participating countries.

3. Andragogy

The term refers to the art and science of helping adults to learn in which the teacher/instructor/ educator/trainer/ facilitates the learning process.

4. Continuing education

It is a branch of adult education that aims to link the needs and goals of individuals with educational activities that will help to develop their full potential as well as aid the socio-economic and political development of a nation state.

5. Community education

The term denotes informal forms of adult education. It lays greater emphasis on responding to the needs of the learner and the community defined in terms of common residence, shared interest and social purpose. It aims to encourage and empower people to take charge of their own institutions, their own education and their own lives. It tends to  be a popular and democratic form of adult education which simultaneously respects diversity and promotes solidarity.

6. Extension education

The term refers to the educational activities like short courses, evening classes, seminars and workshops provided by institutions to the outsiders in order to live better by learning ways to improve their farm, home and community institutions. It is about  ‘helping people to help themselves’ in changing their behaviour (Knowledge, attitude and skill) in a desirable direction in order to bring overall development in an individual, and in his family, in his community and thereby in his nation.

7. Lifelong learning

Thisconcept is rooted in the philosophy that "It's never too soon or too late for learning"; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviours. It sees citizens provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home and through leisure activities, not just through formal channels such as schools and higher education to cope with life issues.

8. Lifelong education

It is often accomplished through distance learning or e-learning, continuing education or correspondence courses. It also includes postgraduate programs for those who want to improve their qualification, bring their skills up to date or retrain for a new line of work. Internal corporate training has similar goals. In later life, especially in retirement, continued learning takes diverse forms, crossing traditional academic bounds and including recreational activities.

One of the reasons why lifelong education has become so important is the acceleration of scientific and technological progress. Despite the increased duration of primary, secondary and university education (34-38 years depending on the country), the knowledge and skills acquired there are usually not sufficient for a professional career spanning three or four decades.

9. Non-formal adult education

The term denotes deliberately organized activities to assist a process by which people manage to develop an individual identity and a conscious place for themselves, and can handle their own opportunities in social relations and dealings independently, by reason of:
• Increased knowledge and insight’
• Testing their own opinions and feelings against those of others; and
• Improvement of skills and powers of expression.

10. Work-based learning

It is a descriptive term that can refer to any of the following:

  • Learning (in general) that can be gained within a work context;
  •  Structured or planned methods or programmes (such as Action Learning) for the training and development of employees in the workplace;
  • Learning activity that takes place “on-the-job” rather than within formal contexts such as training courses;
  • Most recently accredited educational offerings delivered on-site or in-house.

Reflect and share

  • Have you ever taught any adult person how to read & write or use computer in workplace??
  • Have you ever enrolled in any distance learning or participated in career enhancement workshop/programme?
  • Are you engaged in poverty alleviation programmes in community?
  • Are you providing training to community organizations/community members in various themes and sectors e.g., education, health- reproductive & sexual health rights, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, youth and women leadership development, environment, consumer protection, strengthening Local-Self Government, institution building such as Self Help Group  federation, financial analysis, book keeping and accounting, legal literacy and human rights?

If you have, then you have participated in some form of adult education. Reflect on your experiences of adult education and share your insights.

Looking forward

Best wishes

Picture of Mr. Chandra Shekhar Joshi
Re: Key terms
by Mr. Chandra Shekhar Joshi - Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 6:15 PM
Mandakini ji thanks for sharing key terms of adult education course. We havn't practical field experience of adult education. We have only theoretical and administrative knowledge about distance education and students. You are requested to kindly help us in writing the reflection paper. C S Joshi
Picture of Mandakini Pant
Re: Key terms
by Mandakini Pant - Wednesday, 5 February 2014, 9:43 AM

Sure Chandrasekhar,