The market for continuing education will experience strong growth in the future as stated in the Delphi study on the development of continuing vocational education. A large part of this growth must be attributed to the further development of e-learning offers. Learning independently of time and space contributes to the individualisation of learning.
In today's world, the use of digital media is a basic precondition for being able to cope with everyday life. Within the framework of digitisation, online seminars, webinars and, of course, dealing with Web 2.0 are regarded as future trends in the field of education, trends that pose new challenges for teachers and trainers since new methodological, didactic and technical skills are required.
Thus, e-didactics and e-methodology have hardly been integrated in adult education as a separate specialist area, which ultimately means that there is still a significant need for professionalisation. There is currently no training for the design of webinars or video seminars. In addition to specialist aspects, technical competences, moderation competences for virtual processes and management competences are required, which poses many challenges for adult educators that must be overcome. Content must be prepared and managed differently; evaluations and learning results orientations are also performed virtually, which requires the usage of different instruments.
The project eDUCATE, promoted within the framework of the lifelong learning programme Grundtvig is now trying to fill this gap by developing a training course that precisely addresses the challenges and conveys the skills to cope with these challenges.
A training curriculum was developed and tested by a consortium consisting of six organisations. Needs-based continuing education will also contribute to increased quality assurance of digital continuing education offers.
Train-the-trainer programmes consist of six modules with a total of 72 hours. In addition to learning about methodological and didactic options, tools for e-moderation, marketing of learning offers, but also practical instructions for independently designing webinars or video seminars are conveyed. Continuing education itself is designed as an e-learning offer and comprises 30 h of learning while present and 32 h of self-learning or webinars/video seminars. Coaching units for designing independent seminars are also included.
Experiences from the project and pilot training show that distance learning for adults – both in the "traditional" as well as in the newest format (e-training) – is characterised by some basic features that should be taken into account for the conception and implementation of such a course.
- The first task of the trainer is to promote and support the learners.
- Physical distance: Most of the time, the trainees learn by themselves, at home or at the office, i.e. the actual tutor is absent. It is therefore important for the tutor to support the learners in a way that minimises "loneliness". The tutor should be able to provide prompt, sufficient and individual support and guidance at any time for each individual whenever necessary.
- The quality of the offered learning programme essentially depends on two aspects: a) the adequacy of the learning material and (b) the support offered by the tutor at personal meetings as well as during the phases of distance learning. The learning material should be divided into small units (both texts as well as multimedia material) and the trainer should support the learners as much as possible.
- The learning material should contain many examples and the language should be "friendly".
It will only be possible to satisfy increasingly challenging adult education participants if adult educators provide qualitatively valuable continuing education on the basis of e-learning.
Author of the original article in German: Mag. Elke Beneke