We acquire and deliver knowledge in different manners. It is not necessary that we acquire our knowledge only from professional teachers, professors or instructors and it is not necessary that we fall within any of the three listed categories, if we want to share our knowledge with others. We hereby present a few examples* of innovative approaches to adult learning, which link the seekers and providers of knowledge.
Learning from each other online
Broadband internet access, accessibility and simplicity of the use of video and photo equipment, as well as other ICT provide us with numerous possibilities for linking different individual providers and seekers of knowledge, while facilitating the dissemination and exchange of ideas, knowledge and solutions. These sources can include anything from highly academic to highly practical knowledge, labelled "Naredi (si) sam" and "Tako se naredi" (in Slovenian), or DIY or Do it Yourself (in English) sources. When using this phrase, online search engines will return a whole range of applicable and interesting sources. Adult educators can use these sources as teaching/learning materials, to enrich the education process or an additional source, which can be used by participants in their education process.
Learning from each other in pairs
The concept of exchanging foreign language skills between two persons who speak different mother tongues, which is conducted on a mutual basis through personal contacts, video calls or correspondence is often labelled as learning in pair. There is a number of institutions, which offer their users this form of learning; higher education institutions offer this possibility to their (international) students, while libraries and education centres offer this option to their users. One of the largest online portals for the support of such learning in the German language area is the TandemPartners portal. At Lewis, the learning centre of the Adult Education Centre Linz, both individual learners get support in the form of counselling when selecting the relevant materials, initial instructions for their common learning, progress assessment, etc. The Slovenian Knowledge Exchange network has already been presented on EPALE. Eleven Slovenian Knowledge Exchanges provide users with the possibility to present or finds knowledge through workshops, exhibitions, courses, lectures, individual or group work with other seekers/providers of knowledge with similar interests. However, at the global level the concept of knowledge exchange is reflected in the so-called time banks under the organisation of different (local) communities. Learning, knowledge exchange and mutual support is provided for "points", "credit notes". There are time banks in several countries, while newly founded time banks only have some initial support in the form of instructions, online apps, promotional materials, etc. This form of learning is focused primarily on the personal contact between the provider and seeker of knowledge, as well as individual arrangement of the content, form and place of learning.
Learning from each other in a room
Sometimes we are the ones who select the place and time of learning. However, on other occasions education (and other) institutions prepare the place, materials and tools, which promote joint learning and joint work. While not long ago these premises offered only study areas, a computer, and perhaps specific software for independent learning, today they offer a lot more. They are often equipped with drilling machines, musical instruments, sewing machines, tools and materials for creativity activities, design software, 3D printers and much more. Occasionally they provide assistance from a professional, but mainly they offer a lot of possibilities for independent work and mutual assistance among learners. Adult educators find ideas for the equipment and organisation of these premises by googling creativity workshops, makerspace, co-working places.
We can learn from each other in different ways. And perhaps it is time that, besides providing the adult learners with the learning to learn competence, adult educators should start thinking about the teaching to teach competence.
*The above-listed examples are presented in more detail in the publication Beltram, Peter, Zagmajster, Margerita, Bogataj, Nevenka in Šinko, Simona (2014). Analitične podlage za posodobitev modela središč za samostojno učenje (SSU) in modela borz znanja (BZ) (Analytical basis for the modernisation of independent learning centres and the knowledge exchange model), pp. 84–97. Available here.
Simona Šinko, PhD, Ljubljana City Library
Simona Šinko is in the head of the Lifelong Learning Centre at the Ljubljana City Library. She is active at different levels of adult learning, ranging from individual work in the form of mentorship, to conceptual proposals and addressing of problems of adult learning policies. She is devoted to finding answers to question regarding the educational role of libraries and adult learning potential in the light of changing social relationships and improving the quality of everyday life of individuals.