It was very interesting, enlightening, and timely to research current trends in adult education as I embark upon this new adventure in my life, taking the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program. With globalization and technology changing the world we live in, and making it possible to connect with each other no matter where we are, higher education cannot help but be affected, and evolve as well. Current trends in higher education include the concept of open education, meaning free, copyable, remixable, and without barriers to access, making high quality education available to more people. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are another trend being explored as an alternative or addition to traditional higher education. With today’s employers demanding new hires have communication and critical thinking skills, not typically acquired in college, online learning environments are leveraging both formal and informal learning by delivering traditional assignments as well as unstructured time for exploration and experimentation. There is also an increasing trend towards using learning analytics to measure, collect, and analyze data about learners and their contexts in order to optimize learning and the environments in which learning occurs. As a result of the abundance and variety of resources available to students via the Internet, the role of the educator is changing from content provider to content guide. The traditional higher education model is also changing to include online, hybrid, and collaborative learning models to leverage the strengths of all models for optimal learning experiences.
All of these trends are a result of the impact of technology and globalization. To prepare for a career in adult education in the near future, and to address these trends, several things are important. Firstly, it is essential to have a strong understanding of the principles of adult education, teaching models, and teaching strategies. Having core knowledge is critical in order to apply it to future situations. Secondly, because online learning is steadily becoming the norm, it is important to be aware of technical tools such as Skype, Wikis, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube, and incorporate them into teaching and learning – to ensure learners are developing new digital skills or leveraging existing skills. Thirdly, it is important to understand the impact that technology is having on the role of the instructor. Technology is shifting the role of the instructor from content provider to content guide. The role is moving towards educating learners on how to decipher reliable resources, and connecting students with the most effective forums and tools for their areas of study. Additionally, with the rapid advancements in technology, it is imperative for instructors to be life-long learners, to continually learn and explore technical tools to best serve their students. And finally, it is important to read, read, read everything possible to keep up to date with trends, and increase knowledge to improve teaching, and to meet the needs of today’s learners.