This article, Orientation for the Adult Learner, in InsideHigherEd highlights the Adult Learner in many colleges and universities. If you work at an institution with an adult learner population, then a degree in Adult Learning and Leadership can help you understand and serve this growing audience in higher education. Check out the degree program at Adult Learning and Leadership.
My name is Andria Carpenter. I serve Anderson University as the Director for Continuous Learning and I am an instructional designer within the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning. I support my campus through Canvas LMS administration and training, faculty and online course development, and implementation and management of continuous learning opportunities that reach beyond the university to the broader community. My position in this academic group represents a culmination of higher education experience, and I feel deep satisfaction in the work we are doing.
I completed my undergraduate degree as an adult and had contemplated a master’s degree after my three daughters settled in their lives and careers. However, it was my disappointment in not being considered for a position for which I was highly motivated and fully qualified because I did not hold a master’s degree that led me to KSU. I graduated with an MS in Adult, Occupational, and Continuing Education in May 2017.
One of the first program outcomes that I realized was the almost seamless application of course curriculum to my work in faculty training and online course development. I entered the program enthusiastic to study adult-centered education; however, I quickly recognized concepts that transcend the limitations of age and experience, methodology, and course modality that provide solutions and confront barriers to learning. The value of “relevance” is found at every level of the program, in every course description, and on every syllabus. I continue to find relevance between this academic experience and my current educational practice and look back to the literature and course activities of the program as significant resources.
I recently presented, “A Story of Faculty Development, Course Innovation, and Student Success Through Historical Reflection” at the 2018 AAACE Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. I proposed a connection between a wonderful book to which I was introduced while in the master’s program, “We Make the Road by Walking” by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, the Anderson University Mission Statement, and the outcomes of a professional development experience that took place on our campus. The concept that intersected the three events was that of hospitality, otherwise described as a friendly and generous reception or a welcoming characteristic to those on the outside.
The underlying purpose of professional development in any organization is to disseminate the vision of leadership throughout the organization. Learners come to training with different expectations and it is the job of the facilitator to create pathways of learning for everyone regardless of their prior knowledge or ability to embrace new practice. As educators, one of the most valuable tools we utilize is reflection. The practice of reflection is not a 1-2-3 proposal; it is taking an intentional look at what has occurred and identifying what may be learned from the experience. “We Make the Road by Walking” is a reflective conversation between educators that leads readers through the same learning processes presented in many higher-order trainings find themselves engaged, encouraged, and “invited in” rather than left outside because of a less than innovative readiness.
Successful professional development seeks to provide hospitable training and addresses a lack of participation as barriers, not resistance. My university intentionally embraces a hospitable characteristic by addressing obstacles to admissions, finances, prior learning, and relevant curriculum to create an environment of belonging and academic success. Horton and Freire reflect on their lifetime careers in both formal and non-formal learning contexts that resulted in a hospitable and sustainable sense of belonging through literacy and social participation. While I utilized my personal practice and experience to illustrate the principles of barriers, not resistance, I feel that anyone providing professional development may just as effectively plug in the name of their organization.
I love Adult education. I’m proud of my accomplishments as an adult student and feel honored to support others participating in the same endeavor. When I decided to pursue this degree, I didn’t know if it would change my earning potential; I did believe it would provide new career opportunities. It has accomplished both. Becoming a KSU graduate has altered the trajectory of my professional career and is undoubtedly one of the most important steps I’ve taken toward creating new meaning in my personal life. I had years of experience, a drive to succeed, and a love for the work I do. Completing the KSU online master’s program provided solid connections between scholarly literature, best academic pedagogy and practice, aspirant and peer relationships, and most important to me, an invitation to an engaging collegiate conversation and a permanent seat at the innovative and life-long learning table. Yes, I believe hospitality is the right word.
Bernard Harris, doctoral student in Adult Learning and Leadership, conducted an in-studio interview with KCUR Kansas City Public Radio on June 20, 2018. He was discussing his dissertation topic about the education and training of African American officer cadets at the infantry and medical Officer Training Camps at Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1917 prior to overseas deployment to France for World War I. His interview was the result of an article he wrote for a K-State class being published by the Annals of Iowa Journal, State Historical Society of Iowa and a precursor for a free presentation to the public which was on June 24, 2018 at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City on the same topic.
Segment 2, beginning at 36:50: The role of African-Americans in World War I.
You can check out his interview HERE