This paper is a site visit report for an adult education program aimed at equipping learners with Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills in an educational context. Known as “Vision2Learn,” the program was offered as a free online course. The instructor’s name was James Brown and the site visit is based on the program’s operations as of 3 February 2022. The rationale for its development was to encourage working adults to acquire ICT skills. A summary of the program’s contents, relative to its audience, partners, and motivational attributes are described below.
The target audience for “Vision2Learn” was comprised of people looking for an education certification for mastering ICT skills. This population was made up of adults from different races and age groups looking to enhance their performance in the workplace through ICT development. This mixed characterization of the participants gave it a diverse appeal, which is associated with a better exchange of ideas in the andragogy setting (Misawa & McClain, 2019). It represents a paradigm shift in adult education, fuelled by technological growth, where diverse groups of people take part in achieving common educational objectives through virtual programs (Donavant, 2009). Therefore, the target audience was made up of a diverse group of adult workers to represent this transformation.
“Vision2Learn” was a training course for working adults, offered by a vocational training college – Moulton. Its vision statement is to provide forward-thinking courses to students – meaning that it seeks to provide opportunities for socioeconomic advancement for all groups of people (Moulton College, 2022). Similarly, its mission statement is hinged on the provision of quality education to develop talented and industry-focused learners (Moulton College, 2022). The organization has a global outreach because it has students from different parts of the world. Its foundation is hinged on a multinational outlook of educational growth and development.
In a catalog, “Vision2Learn” could be described as a course that offers fundamental ICT skills to working adults. By signing up, participants had an opportunity to learn various skills and concepts in ICT development, including data management, blockchain technology, computer networking, and cryptocurrency. The program was web-based, meaning that communications between the tutor and the participants happened virtually (Misawa & McClain, 2019). Research studies suggest that there is no significant difference between the efficacy of traditional and new delivery methods of learning but the former offer more training opportunities than the latter (Donavant, 2009). Therefore, learners had multiple channels for expressing their digital innovation skills.
The course had three test levels and the first one was the “Beginner” stage, which evaluated students’ mastery of fundamental ICT skills. In this stage of assessment, the test was theoretical with participants learning various skills, functions, and utilities of computer applications in this phase of learning. The second stage was “intermediary testing,” which assessed participants’ knowledge of software operations. Alternatively, the third stage of the evaluation was the “advanced level,” which examined participants’ application of the knowledge learned in class and field exercises.
Schedule and Length of Course
The “Vision2Learn” Program took three months to complete with most of the work saturated in the last three weeks of assessment. There were three modules of learning with each one taking one month to complete. The program included three weekly sessions and each one took 120 hours to complete. After completing each exercise, participants were deemed certified professionals in ICT development.
An assessment of the educational environment where “Vision2Learn” was offered showed that most of the participants had a lackluster reaction to the program. Suggestions for improving it should be anchored on fostering engagements between the tutor and subjects. This proposal is premised on the findings of Misawa and McClain (2019), which suggested that the effectiveness of online-based adult learning programs depends on the development of empathetic mentor-mentee relationships. Therefore, the relationship between the two parties can be best nurtured through a transformative learning framework.
Given that the current learning environment is characterized by limited human contact due to COVID-19, educational materials were availed virtually. At the same time, participants needed access to Microsoft Office 2016, or a higher operating system, to run the course program. The integration of technological tools in learning is part of a larger transformative learning phase impacting adult education in the post-pandemic world (Boeren et al., 2020). Stated differently, institutions are looking for innovative ways of fostering learning in a difficult environment by exploiting digital resources.
The program evaluation process was based on group discussions and simulations. The latter allowed learners to demonstrate their skills through gaming programs, while group discussions involved assessing participants’ knowledge of ICT through skill mastery. These discussions were held in the institutional setting and they comprised of 15 members each. The effectiveness of the evaluation was dependent on the quality of idea exchanges and reflections that occurred in the focus groups. In these discussions, participants were encouraged to engage in reflective exercises involving conversations with the “self” and other group members, as proposed by Kheang (2019). In these discussions, transformative learning was nurtured with the idea that adult learning could be improved through artistic impressions.
The experiences gathered through the “Vision2Learn” program show that adult learning is undergoing a new phase of transformative growth anchored on digital literacy. The success of such programs depends on the appreciation of challenges affecting tutor-student interactions in a virtual environment and in the commitment by all parties to tackle them. As demonstrated in this study, empathetic relationships need to be fostered between both groups to achieve optimum results.
As highlighted above, the “Vision2Learn” program was a virtual free course offered to adult learners. Based on its format and contents, I learned that the quality of the relationship between the tutor and students outlined the grounds for the achievement of the program’s objectives. It affected the design of different instructional activities, including the development of teacher preparation programs and comparable training contents. Given the uniqueness of adult students as an on-demand group of learners, the program’s effectiveness was largely dependent on the willingness to improve the quality of student-teacher relationships in the virtual setting.
Successes and Failures
As with any adult education program, certain aspects of the “Vision2Learn” program operation worked well, while others needed improvement. For example, the evaluation process worked well because it was multifaceted and addressed different aspects of educational competence. However, a low commitment level was registered in some class activities where students failed to attend class sessions or submit their completed projects on time. Therefore, there is a need to secure a higher level of student commitment to improving future program outcomes.
What was learned from the Experience?
Observing the “Vision2Learn” program, made me appreciate the uniqueness of adult education compared to other educational programs. Particularly, I observed that adult learners have unique needs and requirements, such as understanding the relevance of course materials to their everyday life, that have to be demonstrable in their learning exercises. Therefore, it is important to develop instructional materials that are consistent with these unique needs and requirements. Given that the success of the “Vision2Learn” program is partly tied to the recognition of this consistency of purpose, it can be assumed that its participants had a higher sense of self-direction and motivation.
Boeren, E., Roumell, E. A., & Roessger, K. M. (2020). COVID-19 and the future of adult education: An editorial. Adult Education Quarterly, 70(3), 201–204. Web.
Donavant, B. W. (2009). The new, modern practice of adult education: Online instruction in a continuing professional education setting. Adult Education Quarterly, 59(3), 227–245. Web.
Kheang, S. (2019). Intersection between andragogy and transformative learning. Adult Education Research Conference. Web.
Misawa, M., & McClain, A., (2019). A mentoring approach: Fostering transformative learning in adult graduate education. Journal of Transformative Learning, (6)2, 52-62.
Moulton College. (2022). Mission, Vision, and Values. Web.