adult learners, adult education, continuing education, 
online learning, social media for online learners,

Adult Learners Turn to the Web and Social Media

August 27, 2010 06:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A Web site for adult learners is part of a growing chorus of support for continuing education and online learning in the recession. 

Adult Learners Seek Flexible Educational Opportunities

Last year, the American Public University System reported on the launch of College Choices for Adults, a Web site that aims to help adult learners find the information necessary to choose "an institution offering degrees through distance education." Created for "busy adults," the site is full of helpful insights, such as what is taught in each program and how other students in the program performed.

The site stems from the Transparency by Design initiative, which was created for two reasons: to help adult learners become knowledgeable "consumers of distance education," and to encourage greater accountability and transparency among colleges and universities.

Flexibility is key to the success of adult education programs, which must offer Web-savvy programs for distance learners, and allow working adults to attend classes around their busy schedules.

New York University has taken things a step further, catering to "adult students with prior college credits" who want to complete their degree. Two of the university's undergraduate programs, Organizational Behavior and Communication and Organizational Management and Development, allow adults to take online courses in an effort to help them move forward in their careers.

"In these economic times especially, having a college degree is so critical to getting ahead and building a career," Susan Kinsey of the NYU-SCPS Paul McGhee Division said, according to the NYU Office of Public Affairs. "Our online program connects adult learners from across the country," empowering them to finish college.

Other schools, such as Ellis University, have begun offering scholarships to adult distance learners. Ellis awarded a full scholarship to Keyonna Brown, a single mother of a 4-year-old son, thanks to the Career Stimulus Package, a program created by EducationDynamics and Eight different universities are involved in the program and will give nearly $4 million "in online college scholarships to adults who have had financial and other obstacles in going back to school," according to an Ellis University press release.

Background: The benefits of online education

In an entry for The New York Times Bits blog, Steve Lohr discussed the promise of online learning, citing a 12-year study of the Department of Education that found that students who took online courses tested higher than those who did not. According to Lohr, experts believe that online education's most promising aspect is that learning experiences "are more tailored to individual students than is possible in classrooms," which seems to bode well for adult learners returning to school via distance courses.

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