"There was a time when learning was what we did from birth to college graduation. After that? We just worked and eventually retired.
But the world is changing rapidly. And now, more than ever, learning is something that happens outside the classroom throughout our entire lives.
We now have to learn new skills every year just to stay relevant in our jobs (not to mention making a career change!). And it's not just our careers, we also want to learn and continually improve in the things we do outside of work. Whether it's yoga or golf or photography or anything we're passionate about, we want to be better. Every day we see our friends sharing their new achievements and posting their milestones on Facebook; how do we keep up and reach our potential?
We're busier than ever. And despite having access to a mountain of information via the internet, we still struggle to find structured, comprehensive, trusted sources who can excite us and teach us all the things we want to know. We need trusted experts, guides, to help us on our way - we need the ability to learn from the amazing instructors in the world."
"Individual learning plans form a 'route map' of how a learner will get from their starting point on a learning journey to the desired end point. They may be for one course and include the acquisition of qualifications and skills, or may link several courses that give progression to different levels (from level 1 to 3, or from level 2 to Higher Education). They should be individual for each learner to reflect aspirations, aptitude and needs.
Although there may be common learning goals and methods of delivery for all learners on a particular course, it is unlikely that all learners have exactly the same learning styles, abilities, support needs, access to assessment in the workplace (if applicable), previous qualifications or experience. Too many vocationally-based courses have identical individual learning plans where only the names of learners are different. Some will struggle to achieve them while others will find them too easy and lose interest by not being sufficiently challenged.
Individual learning plans should start from a common format, listing general outcomes, and then develop as initial assessment and circumstances impact. They should be live documents that are useful to the learner, delivery staff and possibly employers and parents/guardians."
(Learning and Skills Improvement Service, UK)
"The University of the Third Age (U3A) is a highly successful adult education movement providing opportunities for older adults to enjoy a range of activities associated with well-being in later life. Two substantially different approaches, the original French approach, and the British approach which evolved a few years later, have become the dominant U3A models adopted by different countries. Within many countries communications between the individual U3A groups is limited; between countries there is even less communication. Thus, very little, that is readily accessible, has been written about U3A developments internationally. This article provides an overview of U3A in many countries. Data were obtained by contacting colleagues in a number of countries for up-to-date information about U3As in their region.
U3A underwent a substantial change when it reached Cambridge in 1981. Rather than relying on university good will the founders of the British model adopted an approach in which there was to be no distinction between the teachers and the taught (Laslett, 1989). Members would be the teachers as well as the learners and, where possible, members should engage in research activities. The "self-help" ideal was based on the knowledge that experts of every kind retire, thus, there should be no need for older learners to have to rely on paid or unpaid Second Age teachers. Laslett provides a substantial rationale for this approach. The self-help approach has been highly successful in Britain as well as in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Some of the strengths of the approach include: minimal membership fees; accessible classes run in community halls, libraries, private homes, schools, and so forth; flexible timetables and negotiable curriculum and teaching styles; wide course variety ranging from the highly academic to arts, crafts and physical activity; no academic constraints such as entrance requirements or examinations; and, the opportunity to mix with alert like-minded people who enjoy doing new things. Each U3A is independent and is run by a democratically elected management committee of members."
1). Wokingham U3A Open Day, UK
2). Peter Laslett (1989). A fresh map of life. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
"Students learn human anatomy better when they can paint body parts on a real live body, one Australian expert says.
Professor Paul McMenamin of the University of Western Australia reports on the use of body painting in anatomy classes in the journal Anatomical Sciences Education."
(Australian Broadcasting Corporation News)
"Formal education has traditionally relied on the objectivist view of knowledge. This view of learning assumes that knowledge can be imparted from teacher to learner through instruction, lecture and practice. This view of traditional adult education assumes true reality can be determined by 'a large accumulation of facts' (Kelly 1970, 2). Teaching and research driven by this philosophy discourage different views and understandings, disregarding different contexts and experiences of individuals, and regard individuals as passive recipients of knowledge. Although lectures and information-giving techniques may be affective in some contexts and for some individual learning styles, their continued use as a dominant pedagogy has allowed limited recognition to diverse preferences of learning. Limited learner participation and interaction in the objectivist view has also disallowed pedagogues to realise the need for learner control during the process of learning. Learning in this context rather places emphasis on teacher-control and learner compliance.
In recent times, educators and institutional discourse has begun to challenge the objectivist view, with an increasing appreciation of different ways of knowing the world. Constructivist writers in education have described varied versions of constructivism, but commonly acknowledge the active role of the learner in interpretation of reality (Larochelle and Bednarz 1998, 5). They challenge the objectivist view that suggests 'facts speak for themselves' and that 'knowledge is the reflection of ontological reality, and that language objectively refers to this reality' (Larochelle and Bednarz 1998, 5). The constructivist alternativism philosophy, described by George Kelly (1970) instead suggests that our constructions and views of the world are not stable, but are in continuous change as we build on past experiences. This change signifies learning and supports the understanding that as human beings, we are always construing and learning, and we are never inert (Kelly 1970)."
(Shalni Gulati, 5-7 April 2004)