Adult learners differ from younger students in several ways: their time is limited due to other life responsibilities, they have different levels of prior knowledge and some lack ICT skills, some work in shifts and are unable to participate in courses and some have negative experience with prior educational process (drop-outs) and need special attention. For those reasons classic school lectures often do not meet their needs and requirements. The option is pure e-learning or distant learning, but this presents difficulties for those who lack ICT skills and need additional support. In addition many experience difficulties engaging in education after a longer break and require guidance and support. Personal contact is valued and is hard to replace by modern technology.
To meet all these requirements adult educators need to be well equipped and able to present the subject/content in a way that is understandable, acceptable and tailored to the individual learner’s needs. In adult education educators differ greatly; some come from school sector, others are professionals primarily working in non-educational sector and some are self-employed. If teachers in regular schools are often acquainted with new teaching approaches, educators in adult education rarely have the same opportunity. As teaching adults is often their “second or additional job” time spent to improve their technics is limited, so are the financial resources. Taking into consideration the adult learners needs they are however the ones that need to use most creative and innovative methods, adapted to each individual’s needs. The project focuses on such innovative technique and aims to adapt it and implement it for adult educational purposes.
The Flipped Classroom as described by Jonathan Martin is: Flip your instruction so that learners watch and listen to lectures as homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved. The approach is especially suitable to adult learners since they can decide when to learn and how to divide their time. At the same time enables educators to adjust in-class time to individual’s needs – focusing on basics with some and advancing the subject with others. It encourages and promotes ICT use but with support and guidance that adult learners need. The personal contact is provided but with enough space and freedom for learners to design their own learning path. The FTC technique present a quicker, more efficient and creative way of learning.
Within the frame of this project:
1. The needs of adult learners in participating countries will be identified and Flip the Classroom (FTC) technique will be introduced to educators in adult education during the training (15 educators will participate in the training, additional 50 will be acquainted with the FTC technique).
2. Educators will transfer the FTC technique to adult education, design classes and develop materials that will meet the adult learners’ needs; pilots will be done in partner countries (a minimum of 100 adult learners will benefit from the FTC technique).
3. After the pilots assessment will be done and feedback provided. Additional modifications will be done according to the feedback from adult learners. Trained educators will participate in events (national conferences) for other educators, providers and policy makers presenting the outcomes.
4. A learning guide on FTC in adult education will be developed with aim to transfer the method and the design of the materials to further fields (subjects).
All materials will be made accessible to all partners in the educational circle; so that educators and learners can get insights and a better understanding of the use of diverse learning materials and methodologies. Teachers working primarily in VET/elementary schools/other educational centres will act as a catalyst to make the concept of FTC known in other organizations and schools by incorporating the method and suited teaching materials in their work.
The need for new teaching techniques arises from the needs of the adult learners, they are motivated to learn but at their own pace and in their own time. They do however need support and tailored materials. Educators wish to meet those needs but adapting their learning style requires expertise which this project will provide. The outcomes (training including methodology, materials and a learning guide on FTC in adult education) have great potential for sustainability since they will be available online. The trained educators will continue to deliver the courses in partner organizations after the project lifetime. The materials will be offered to fellow educators and lessons learned will be transferred to other educational institutions in partner countries.