Professional Journal Summary 1998 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Professional Journal Summary 1998

-- Anonymous, December 07, 1998



Submitted by Tina Meyers

"Classes Going the Distance So People Don't Have To: Instructional Opportunities for Adult Learners" from T.H.E. Journal, Volume 26, Number 4, November 1998

This article is about how universities and community colleges are becoming increasingly aware of the huge potential for increasing student enrollment. That potential lie within the distance learning courses and programs developed by the institutions. Baby Boomers are returning to the classroom for many reasons. Some want to refresh and enhance their skills, others are looking for workplace advancement, as well as the pure pleasure of new knowledge. It is estimated that "by the year 2007 almost 50% of all learners enrolled in postsecondary education courses will take some of their courses through distance education delivery formats." (72)

Adult learners are a significant and growing segment of postsecondary education. In my classes at RRCC I see a growing number of nontraditional aged students. It has been my experience that these learners bring with them many valuable life experiences. Student backgrounds range from employee, spouse, and parent to citizen, community and/or church worker. Often, these learners can take ideas and apply them and take theory and apply it into practice. They are willing to cooperate and collaborate and tend to express themselves much more openly. They take responsibility for their education and many make sacrifices in reaching their goals.

Adult learners want flexibility. That is one of the reasons that the Cohort format from UMD was so easy to market. There are many different formats available to students. What the role of the institutions is to find their niche and find out what has worked for other schools and what the needs of students taking the courses are.

"Course materials and technology must include applicable concepts and techniques, clear, learner-set and learner-monitored goals, opportunity for learner motivation; flexible use of time, consideration of an accommodation for the learner's limitations." (74)

At RRCC we have done extensive research on distance learning. It is a very worthwhile endeavor; however, the amount of time and preparation it takes to make distance learning a positive experience is another story entirely. With new allocation models and budgets, there is little time or money to devote to alternative distance learning formats. But with declining enrollment, many institutions need to seriously reevaluate their mission and begin to plan for a new virtual college.

-- Anonymous, December 08, 1998

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