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Adult distance learning for adults – study report


Contributed by Kaela Dear, Training & Development Consultant, Workbase

I would like to tell you about the Adult Distance Learning project I have been involved in with the University of Barcelona, the University of Helsinki and Luleå Tekniska Universitet (Sweden). Overall the SOCRATES project was designed to look at Distance Learning for Adults.

Our piece of research looked at and compared community-based and company-based open learning centres. We extracted a number of key elements for making distance learning more accessible to different types of people, whether they learn for personal reasons or job development.

University of Barcelona analysed the results from their own research, and the partners, and have produced a Guide of Good Practice for Open Distance Learning Adults with observations and recommendations:

Accessibility - Multimedia Distance Education excludes those who are not familiar with the use of new technologies. For this reason, it is essential that Adult Distance Learning courses that are taught through the use of new technologies are included in a training path agreed on with the participants. Also, student support service is recommendable.

Educational Material – It is important to create interactive materials that are well-structured, clear and easy to use by those who lack prior experience in multimedia environments through the Internet.

The Equipment – as not everyone owns a computer, self-learning classrooms must be provided. Such rooms must be equipped with the hardware that fits the courses’ needs.

Methodology – Within the newly introduced forms of teaching in multimedia ODL course it is important that these do not exclude or punish course participants by reason of the type of knowledge on which they have previously specialised in their daily lives. What is important is to get participants more involved in the class; that they make their own decisions at any time.

Tutorials and Tutors – The relationship between the tutor and the participants must be egalitarian. It must be based on a dialogue that enables agreement of the course design and contents, according to the participants’ learning pace.

Evaluation – It is important to promote evaluation methods that enable participants to monitor what they are learning.

Motivation –It is essential to design clear and user-friendly materials, appealing to those that use them, and responding to their real training needs. Self esteem and confidence of the learner needs to be boosted. The courses should have an immediate practical application.

Self- learning – Participants should have the possibility to define their own learning pace. They should also have the opportunity to communicate with other learners, this promotes the quantitative and qualitative efficiency of their learning.

Peer Group – The relationship among course mates is both necessary and helpful in order to make learning possible. Support from family, neighbours and friends all establish and maintain relations that affect a person's learning.

For the full version of the Guide visit CREA’s (University of Barcelona, Adult Education Research Centre )website:

Information provided by Workbase Scotland. To contact us with any questions about the project:

email: [email protected]


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