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Write up a ‘case study ‘on an adult learning program, learn about the program operation and activities within a particular organization. (Choose one program from these)

  • Online learning
  • Tele courses
  • Computer based trainings
  • Interactive television
  • Hybrid courses

Introduction: The Need for Adult Education and Online Learning

Adult education has been the subject of great interest to the educationists and national leaders as the lacking skills and incompetency in the workers is raising the concern. Alarmingly, majority of the adult population in the work field possess low numeracy skill and literacy level. In Maldives especially, the adult education is greatly emphasized and to spread the privilege of education among all, the institutions are increasingly favoring online medium of education (Smith & Pourchot, 2013). In fact, to encompass the whole gamut of education and to make it available among all age group of people, online learning is the only feasible way. The importance of such courses increases even more as this effectively combats the deleterious impacts of school dropout trend and emerging need of ICT skills in the job fields.

In this context, many of the companies use online learning programs to train their employees and enhance their skills that are required for the job. The application of open learning through ICT resources is developing at a fast pace in Maldives as well as in the whole world (Hall & Kidd, 2014). Adult education can primarily be divided into three sections; secondary education for adults, vocational education for adults and adult tertiary education. The educational organizations in Maldives highly emphasize upper secondary education for adults and have properly designed curriculum under the New Curriculum. The vocational education program is not that age-specific and there is substantial provision for adults to be provided with online learning modules. Tertiary education for adults is for part-time learners who intend to learn in a later age.

The case study is to centre on Maldives National University and its online program for education. In fact, it has a centre for open learning i.e. a distinct department facilitating online learning for adults. The courses they offer include Bachelor degree course for teaching primary, Master of Arts in Social Policy, advance certificate course in subjects like management, human resource management, Bachelor degree in business, Diploma course in Judicial Administration as well as English for Further Studies. The students are systematically informed of the course modules, the tutorials, the portfolios and the presentations. In the first place, students are informed of the main objectives of the curriculum that they have taken up. Next, the important aspect of online learning comes, i.e. to inform the students about the accessing procedures of online resources (Tight, 2014).

Since earlier, it has been seen that the adult learners mostly face difficulty in accessing the learning materials provided online to them. Hence, it is very important to provide them with the proper guidance in relation to this and Maldives National University looks after to this aspect very carefully. The prospected workload and the syllabus are also presented to the students beforehand to let them be acquainted with the curriculum pressure. Besides, the students are familiarized with the attendance requirements and in this case, the university strictly adheres to the norms and regulations. Indeed this is necessary to maintain the standard of education under the university and ensures that the education standard in open learning is not comprised at all.

Maldives National University's Online Program for Education

Adult learning as defined by The Council of the European Union (2011), is the form of education that covers the complete range of informal, non-formal and formal learning activities as well as vocational and general undertaken by the students of adult age group after they have left the initial training or education (Smith & Pourchot, 2013). Generally the adult education and adult learning are used as interchangeable terms but there is a slight difference in the implications. While the term adult learning is used to focus on the ‘learner’, adult education rather focuses on the education provider. Adult education is based on the science of andragogy and is often compared with pedagogy.

The term andragogy has reference to the art and science of the teaching technique for adults while the more popular term pedagogy related to the theories of education literally refers to children teaching methods. According to Malcolm Knowles, often it has been seen that the methods applied to tutor the children is not practically suitable and effective for the adults. Andragogy, in modern terms is often determined as a newly emerging technology for educating adults (Habibi & Branch, 2015). As the assumptions of andragogy states, learning for adults should move from dependency on the educators to self-directedness. Alongside, according to andragogy, the adult learning programs must also draw upon the reservoir of the students’ experience as a benefit of their maturity.  

Besides, in adult learning, the students are expected to learn better if they assume new roles while learning they tend to learn better (Noor, Harun & Aris, 2014). This assumptions and implications of andragogy is starkly in contrast with pedagogical aspects. In the first place, in pedagogy there is no opportunity for moving towards self-directedness for the students because for the children, they are incapable to be self-dependent in learning. Apart from this, the experience factor emphasized in andragogy is not applicable for the pedagogy directed learning programs.

In the context of adult learning, it is also important to have an overall perspective on the formal, non-formal and informal systems of education. According to the definition provided by UNESCO, formal learning refers to the training provided in a structured way by an educational institution and that, which leads to certification. Informal learning, however, results from activities in daily life and workplace, in leisure or in family, while on the other hand, non-formal learning is that, which happens outside the formal education system either in an intermittent or on a regular basis (Thomas & Postlethwaite, 2014). Whereas the incidental learning is that one which occurs in an indirect, unplanned or accidental manner within a formal or an informal learning situation (Marsick & Watkins, 2015).

Adult earners have been diversified n nature with the typical age for adult learning starting from 25 years of age and older than that, coming with broader educational and cultural backdrop, experiences in job and adult errands. They are not of the type that generally follows the conventional way of being enrolled in the post-secondary education after immediately completing high school.

Definition of Adult Education and Learning

Adult learners have often gone for online learning, enrolling themselves in certificates and other non-degree programs in the colleges along with requirement of refresher courses for preparing them for work of colleges. Adults often make a return to college for staying competitive at their workplace or preparing themselves for a change in their career. Their studies have been mostly part-time based, taking in one or two courses in a term along with handling responsibilities related to family and work.

There are certain barriers that the adult learner faces which are responsibilities of family, career and financial matters on a single shoulder. Mostly for maintaining all these adults end up being in tight budgets or debts along with short or no time for preparing themselves for academic purpose, lacking required self-confidence. Adults need certain things for continuing with their adult learning, like financial assistance, flexible schedule for classes, options related to transportation and options of distance learning.

In the year 1980, Knowles came up with 4 assumptions about the facets of adult learning (andragogy) which were different from the postulation about child learners (pedagogy). Malcolm Shepherd Knowles was an educator of American origin who was best known for the ‘Andragogy’ term as synonymous to the adult education. As per Malcolm, andragogy can be stated as the science and art of adult learning, with it referring to any form of adult learning. The ‘andragogy’ term is somewhat equivalent to pedagogy. In the year 1984 Knowles added the 5th one to his already list of 4 assumptions.

The self-concept of a person matures, moving from being of dependent personality towards being more of a self-directed human being

With maturity, a person starts accumulating a growing pool of experience becoming an increase source for learning

A person’s readiness to learning becomes increasingly oriented with his maturity for developing tasks of his social roles

  As an individual matures the time change perspectives from one that of the postponed knowledge application to that of the propinquity of application, consequently orientation towards the learning swings from being centeredness to subject to problem centeredness

As a person attains maturity, the motivation to learn becomes internal.

There is requirement in explaining the rationale of the scientific things that needs to be taught like the operations and other commands related to it. All the instructions in computer based learning should be task oriented and not on memorization. Instruction from the instructors should be based on the broader horizons of various backgrounds of the learners. The materials of learning along with the activities should be facilitated for various levels of prior experience with the computers. Adults are mostly self-directed in nature with instructions allowing learners to determine things and knowledge for them without depending much on the people, offering guidance to them as and when required.

Instrumental Learning Theories: These theories focuses on the experience of individual taking into account the behaviorist and cognitive learning theories

  1. Behavioral theories form the basis or foundation for many proficiency based curriculum and training programs. An environmental stimulus has the ability to bring change in behaviour. Application of these theories generally results in promoting of standardization in the learning outcome.
  2.  In case of the cognitive leaning theory the focus is mainly on the mental and psychological processes of the mind and not on the behaviour. They are mostly concerned with the information processing and perception.

A learning environment needs to be created that would cultivate a sense of support and partnership with the adults taking into account the following:

The Adult Learner

Group works that are well-designed often contributes to the augmentation of learning that is participatory and concerted in nature where the instructor is mainly seen as partner. Activities with the group foster development of a positive peer connection.

Humour is something that needs to be integrated into the regular activities within classrooms. Humour helps in seeing the human side of the instructor that often gets hidden in learning. Humour has the ability to build relationships.

Adults do have various responsibilities apart from being a learner with a sense of isolation creeping in among them being student. Instructors should take up the responsibility of availing themselves to individual conferences.

Flexible learning is something that positions the learner in primary control. It is mainly based on the educational systems and philosophies that are mainly concerned with offering the learners with increased alternative and personalization in suiting to their particular need for learning. It is mainly concerned with choices about where, when and how learning occurs.

Flexible learning has always been welcomed in the adult education and training. Most organizations that are related to vocational training and education have been offering after work hour workshops and sessions for training behind the normal working hours for not disrupting the normal production schedule. The workplace life is becoming hectic with sustaining of immense pressure. Many employers are going for after hours or distance training for easily managing t3he interruptions that takes place in normal operations.

The learning environment through online can also be defined by self-direction, where learners are generally responsible for the goal setting and the relevant strategies in attaining those goals. In case of online learning, the method that is being chosen by the instructor as the key means of contacting for the class would be playing a dominant role in the establishments of interactions among the members in the class. For instance, web based environments that are open ended in nature facilitates for self-direction and adaptation of individualized nature of content. A social network program usage would be offering the learners a space for dealing with interactions of formal and informal stature, generating virtual community and personal break for defining themselves. There are availability of various tools like Google docs or Voice Threads that offers learners the capability of synchronously collaborating on the construction of slides, spreadsheets and documents or video productions.

A critical part in the design of online course is the usage of discussion for guiding adult learning. The tasks in discussion should be based on questions that encourage the adults in developing various facets and explaining a topic or particular situation. It generally takes in close-ended questions, discussions that are open-ended which adults use to reflect on the process of learning. In case of online discussion, learning needs to be facilitated through emergence of discussion viewpoints and not from demarcation of wrong and right.

Learning is the way, which creates value in the learning process in and across the organization. However, there are ample of debates in between different scholars and experts about the mechanism of the learning process and its scope. Botha et al. did propose learning as a form of three stages such as conceive the knowledge then learn it and apply it to derive the maximum profitability. Brown and Duguid (1991) did further explain the organizational learning as a bridge in between working and innovating (Smith & Pourchot, 2013).

The Adult Learning Theory: Andragogy of Malcolm Knowles

The organizational learning is important for the betterment of both the employees and the organizations. This is because of the fact that the organizational learning is necessary. However, the concept postulated by Botha did have some flaws in it as it does favour the importance of imagination for learning in organization, which is in actuality not possible. An organizational learning can never happen without having any prior consultation with the skill development personal. The development of organizational learning is very much dependent on attaining the educative training and development program and less dependent on the observance. This is because of the fact that observation does require a sound grabbing power of the happening, which itself is related to the understanding of the relevant skills (Edwards, Hanson & Raggatt, 2013).

The political interest and the organizational learning are very much evident in major number of organizations. The bias behaviour of supervisors and the manageress are nothing but the political interest, which encourage the inhibitor for the propaganda. This also becomes a medium to learn something; however, this is not rational to the personal and the organizational development. The observation would perfectly work here as to learn something politically influenced activities is not any high-end skills (Merriam & Bierema, 2013).

Ontology has widened its relations with the organizational learning as it has provided solutions to most of the problems. Following are some of the benefits of ontology, which it has brought to the organizational learning (Edwards, Raggatt & Small, 2013):

  • It has enabled the understanding of common shared goals and the knowledge, which is important for having an internal flow of the knowledge
  • It helps manage the knowledge management in organizations
  • Enabled the separation of domain knowledge from the organizational knowledge

Foley did support the incidental types of learning, which can happen at any time such as by observing political and social struggles at the workplace. However, this kind of learning is helpful for the practicality of behaviour in the organization; this is not related to the skill development. Moreover, skill development is the most required element to perform the given task appropriately.

The adult learning is a fight of unity with the diversity, which is very much evident in the absorbing nature of individual employees. The variance in the absorbing nature towards the every kinds of learning in organizations do clearly forms the background of the mentioned conflict. This also proves the differentiated movement of the learning in organization (Taylor & Cranton, 2012).

The aligning of adult education with the fundamental educational format would be beneficial for both the learner and the organizations. This is because of the fact that the learner is filled with diverse range of learning skills, which also covers the practicality of the living world such as the political and the social life. This is very important for the development of the learner and the society as well. The developed learner in the light of adult education thus helps the organization with a wide range of its knowledge (Merriam & MacKeracher, 2013).

The ongoing debate on the lifelong learning on an individual or the society has attracted many works in this regards. However, it is an undeniable fact that a lifelong learning is the utmost requirement for the entire society. The degrading environment of the external world thus very well reveal and support the fact that the lifelong learning should not be limited to the individual only; it rather needs to be incepted in the entire society as much as possible (Shuck, Albornoz & Winberg, 2013).

The adult education should focus on the entire society but not on individual. This is because of the fact that an educated society would thus laid down the foundation of a better future. The world is a corrupted place, which is hampered by many societal flaws, which needs a quick repairing. However, the repairing is not possible entirely as the corruption is higher but efforts can be given to at least influence a portion of the world. The inception of several new technologies in education has opened up its door to several new prospects.

The sustainability of lifelong learning has created enough of buzz in both the public and the private spaces. This is because of the fact that the public body is also considering the development of lifelong earning in the entire society. This has become a political and a social agenda, which needs serious responses from al the responsible bodies such as the public body, the institutional bodies and the corporate worlds (Edwards, Sieminski & Zeldin, 2014).

The typology of adult education is nothing but a sophisticated form of a collection of learning at the different stages in life. The different kinds of learning, which are discussed, are the learning at the schooling times, learning at the college times, earning at the university level, learning at the organizational level and the learning at the most personalized level. This is an important framework, which governs the learning at the different stages in life (Reder, 2012).

The changing scenario with the probability of the development of the digital technology is a threat to millions of jobs. This is because of such reasons many social reformers thus believe that a lifelong learning of skills and the socio-political background of the surrounding world is of utmost importance for the survival of several of labor. This is one such reason, which is putting enormous pressures on the social aspects of the world to have sound lifelong learning desires (Rogers & Street, 2012).

The socially changing lives across the globe with the advent of some new technologies have put some sound effect on the learning process. The development of new technology has forced the society to learn the newly developed skills and technologies. The threat of digital age has also affected the social behaviours of learners. The desire to learn new things is rapidly increasing with the enhancement of technology. The lifelong learning in modern times have become an integral asset for the societies just for having a solid responses to the changing dimensions of the outside world and the relevant required skills.

As per a report by UNESCO on the adult learning in all the countries, it can well be concluded that the generation of awareness in different countries differ from one country to another. The report thus also provides some useful information as all the countries are not providing a clear picture on the respective adult learning. They have no clear ideas on the adult learning. Moreover, the participation and the quality of adult learning is varying in nature across different countries in the world.

Following are some of the goals of the adult learning (Lafta et al., 2016):

  • Increasing the social awareness towards the technological advancements in the modern age
  • Providing adequate learning skills in adult, which is necessary for retaining the jobs in the rapid digitalizing world
  • Minimizing the social differences to maximize the organizational success

The adult learning delivery system is not yet developed. The learning has no defined theory, system, facilities and the understanding, which could facilitate the spirit for lifelong learning into the society. The awareness is widely spread across the globe but a uniform movement towards the lifelong learning is out of context now.

Adult education is widely useful for the development of a balanced society. This is because of several reasons such as uniform modes of learning the new skills, learning the practicality about the world by just observing the socio-political surroundings and enhancement of learning at the workplace are some of the benefits, which the lifelong learning can bring to the different organizations across the globe.

UNESCO is playing an important role in attracting the masses towards the importance of adult learning. According to UNESCO, adult learning is very important for the economy of the country. It also believes that the adult learning is also important for the betterment of the societies across the globe. It is trying to generate the awareness towards the importance of adult learning in the modern era of education. According to UNESCO, lifelong adult learning is important and precious for the socio-cultural, economy and the environmental factors of a country. This is because of such reasons the UNESCO is doing good works to encourage the facilitation of adult learning in and across the globe (Blossfeld et al., 2014).

The term international education does mean the spread of awareness of the advantages of the lifelong learning process to the entire world. This means that it is for the initiation of a learning system, which also encourages the observation of different kinds of backgrounds and learning from all those resources.

Workplace education is the provision by which the employees are facilitated to edify themselves through multifarious learning processes. Such changing attitude towards the improvement of the employees has been adopted and attributed in different organizations. In order to ensure overall intellectual development of the employees, the attitude of the organizations has been changing towards the provision of adult education. EF SET works as a guiding tool to facilitate the employees as well as the employers receive adequate education especially English as second language so as to increment the power of global understanding of the business and enhance the level of communication. English as second language works as the igniting factors for interpreting global communication structure.  

Creation of positive and effective learning environment for the employees in the business organizations results in the fortification of proliferating concepts of increasing the level of employee competency.  Dr. Chuck Osborn in his seminar paper titled Builders of Community, has clearly mentioned the need for a conceptual framework in every academic and/ or non- academic sector in terms of providing online learning opportunities to the employees. In order to privilege the employees with learning methods, the case organization has developed some content ideas. National University of Maldives provides some course materials for the adult students on the respective subjects. However, the basic course material is based on teaching English to them. Those digital and online courses are imbibed by many of the business organizations and the process f teaching is to some extent emulated so as to maintain the authenticity of teaching procedure.

Considering the consumption of time for enjoying class room training, the University has created a tele-portal through which the adult learners can receive course materials and related information about the course schedules. A body of student care has been made where the service executives are deployed in order to provide support to the students who can seldom visit the class room and follow the lectures of the professors. In this case, tele- learning method has been effective that strengthens the communication process between the students and the educators.   

Not only Maldives but also the global organizations provide adequate education to the working labors. The level of proficiency I duly checked through the test on EF ST. EF SET is another useful tool that is intended to be used while  

Since adults are self directed learners and they are actively engaged in the entire process of learning, their learning process is mobilized through the accumulation of their practical experience and workforce learning. There are certain characteristics of adult learners. Since they are self driven forces, their prime action towards the learning process is advocated through the implementation and application of their existing gathered knowledge. Online courses provide support to the students by giving them the opportunity to choose the courses according to their own set of time. It also provides the learners with opportunity to connect and collaborate themselves in a global standard.  


As per the discussion, it can be said that most of the global organizations are set to provide education to the staff. Lack of skilled and trained laborer in the global market has given ample opportunity of staff training through educational purpose. It provides the learners with the facility of late learning methods and the psychological attachment towards the learning process. It can thus be concluded that most of the process of adult education is done trough online.


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Edwards, R., Sieminski, S., & Zeldin, D. (2014). Adult learners, education and training (Vol. 2). Routledge.

Habibi, M., & Branch, M. (2015). The difference between Andragogy and Pedagogy in adult education. Life Science Journal, 12(9), 91-95.

Hall, B. L., & Kidd, J. R. (Eds.). (2014). Adult learning: a design for action: a comprehensive international survey. Elsevier.

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Reder, S. (2012). The longitudinal study of adult learning: Challenging assumptions. Centre for Literacy.

Rogers, A., & Street, B. V. (2012). Adult literacy and development: Stories from the field. Leicester: niace.

Shuck, B., Albornoz, C., & Winberg, M. (2013). Emotions and their effect on adult learning: A constructivist perspective.

Smith, M. C., & Pourchot, T. (Eds.). (2013). Adult learning and development: Perspectives from educational psychology. Routledge.

Smith, M. C., & Pourchot, T. (Eds.). (2013). Adult learning and development: Perspectives from educational psychology. Routledge.

Taylor, E. W., & Cranton, P. (2012). The handbook of transformative learning: Theory, research, and practice. John Wiley & Sons.

Thomas, R. M., & Postlethwaite, T. N. (Eds.). (2014). Schooling in East Asia, Forces of Change: Formal and Nonformal Education in Japan, The Republic of China, the Peoples Republic of China, South Korea, North Korea, Hong Kong, and Macau. Elsevier.

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