Guidance in adult education takes on various forms. It can be developed and implemented as a completely independent activity, aiming to provide guidance support to adults in all phases of the education process, prior to participation, during the education process and afterwards. In the recent fifteen years we used this approach to develop fourteen regional guidance centres for adult education, guidance centres (Svetovalna središča za izobraževanje odraslih – ISIO).
Guidance can be implemented as a part of the education process where the teacher/educator assumes the role of the counsellor and mentor, who guides adults on their learning path and helps them achieve concrete education/learning objectives. It can be dedicated to attainment of learning objectives in specific forms of education; e.g. counselling in Centres for independent learning – The Centre for Autonomous Learning (Središča za samostojno učenje; SSU) and Knowledge Exchanges The Learning Exchange (Borze znanja).
The key aim of all forms of guidance in adult education is to help adults to participate in the lifelong learning process and to maximise their effectiveness in the process.
Since we recorded a decrease in the number of adults between 25 and 64 years of age participating in adult education (in 2010 16.2% of all adults participated in adult education; in 2011 the percentage decreased to 15.9, in 2012 to 13.8% and in 2013 to 12.4%; source: Eurostat), the challenge for all adult educators remains how to communicate and counsel on the possibilities for adult education to those, who are less active in learning/education or whose access to education and learning is more difficult, and are less motivated for learning.
Research shows that the participation is lower among less-educated adults, adults with secondary education of less than 3 years and persons above the age of 50, and esp. among the unemployed, older employees and adults with different barriers, immigrants and others. Experience in Slovenia and other European countries show that adults less active in education can be easier reached if information and guidance on possibilities for adult education are provided in different ways and at different locations, possible as close as possible to their place of work or residence. These are the so-called "outreach" approaches and approaches outside the "main" institutions. In professional literature the most commonly referenced definitions are those, written by Veronica McGivney, who defines four possible models:
- Satellite model: foundation of smaller branches of major centres in smaller local communities;
- Peripatetic model: provision of guidance in different education environments, such as day-care centres, homes for the elderly, local community centres, hospitals, prisons etc.);
- Detached outreach model: establishing contact with people outside institutions (e.g. in the street, shopping malls, restaurants etc.);
- Domiciliary outreach model: visiting of people at their home.
The fact that approaches to dissemination of information and guidance outside institutions can be effective has been also confirmed by experience of several guidance centres, which developed various approaches:
- Dislocation (Satellite model): represents a form of guidance which is provided once a week (in the morning or/and afternoon) at specific institutions of different type and always at the same location (other education institutions, libraries, social work centres, municipal premises etc.).
- Mobile guidance (Peripatetic model): is provided occasionally, on request, outside of the office of the guidance body (within organisations dedicated to specific groups of adults, e.g. occupational activity centres/organisations for adults with mental and/or health developmental issues, employment offices, communities of Roma people, at the workplace, in prison etc.).
- Days of Slovenian Guidance Centres (Detached outreach model) is an annual activity of three days' duration, primarily dedicated to dissemination of information and promotional activities outside the area of the registered office of the guidance centre and its branches, where counsellors and stalls are located in the street, shopping mall, library etc.;
- Counsellors attending local community events (Detached outreach model): the counsellor attends specific traditional, popular and typical events in the local community, which is attended by a large number of people.
- Info points (elements of the Detached outreach model): their main aim is to provide people with information on the possibilities for guidance and education, usually by disseminating printed materials. Info points can be permanent or temporary, while they are equipped with information materials. Occasionally, counsellors are also present. Info spots can be set up at various locations, from public premises to different organisations where there is a high frequency of people (healthcare centres, social work centres, bibliobus etc.).
According to counsellors the most effective approaches are those, when the counsellor goes among people and provides information in person. What about your experience? How do you reach adults with your guidance? Which approaches are the most effective? Which do you think are the main challenges of guidance in adult education up to 2020?
Tanja Vilič Klenovšek (firstname.lastname@example.org), Slovenian Institute for Adult Education
Tanja Vilič Klenovšek works at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education as the head of Guidance and Evaluation Unit. She is engaged in the development of guidance in adult education for over 20 years, while she focuses on challenges of development of new approaches in guidance and in-service training of counsellors in adult education. She is convinced that professional approach and quality of the counsellor's work are two key elements of the guidance process.