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Andragogy And Innovation In Higher Education

Andragogy is pedagogy oriented towards adults –but what does that mean?

Giancarlo de Agostini S.
2016-07-25

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Giancarlo de Agostini S., PhD,
Academic, Continuing Education Centre
of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (CEC-IAEN)-Quito

Andragogy is pedagogy oriented towards adults –but what does that mean?

From the student’s point of view, it means that his ideas and experience will receive utmost respect. This particular adult comes from a different context, with personal, social and community experiences; therefore he must be offered a constructivist and experiential learning. Articulated mechanisms by which knowledge is internalized by the learner must be provided, bearing in mind that this is a complete person capable of self-criticism and who has already formed a life plan. This is an adult with family, work, friends, and parents who must be very careful in terms of his time-management in order to perform well in his studies.

Additionally upon being offered this type of education, whether online or as a taught program, the student must be responsible for his own learning; he is an independent, creative, active learner who is willing to learn even if this implies having to make great personal sacrifices. It must be pointed out that this teaching-learning process is centred on the student himself. He must ensure he acquires the knowledge he needs: this knowledge will assist him in reaching his life-plan. The student will self-evaluate his cognitive, ethical and experiential progress, and will modify his desired outcomes as he goes.

But, the great question is: are there any innovative programs designed with these adults in mind? And, the answer, of course, is definitely yes! Can we find experiences involving this type of learning in Ecuador? Again, the answer is affirmative.

I will mention two successful and innovative experiences in Ecuador: one is the Continuing Education Centre at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (CEC-IAEN) and the other is Colegio Virtual Iberoamericano.

1. IAEN —through its Continuing Education Centre (CEC-IAEN)— works with two different platforms: the first is the world-known Moodle that is used by universities and schools in Ecuador and is oriented mainly towards small groups who can be closely guided by a tutor or facilitator. The other is the edX platform, designed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which has been exclusively adapted and modified by IAEN and is called Forma-X. This one is designed to be used massively and can be accessed simultaneously by over 100.000 participants.

Forma-X has many of the same resources used by other e-learning platforms, including peer evaluation and evaluation by the facilitator. There is even an automatic essay evaluation feature based on artificial intelligence processes that corrects writing much like a teacher would (currently only in the English language). This platform is ideal for massive training, particularly directed to the public sector.

2. The other successful Ecuadorian experience, with initial financing by the UNESCO and IDB, and winner of several international awards (in Sweden, in Japan, etc.), is Colegio Virtual Iberoamericano (www.cvi.edu.ec) of Fundación UVIA (www.fuvia.org). This initiative, approved by the Ministry of Education and twelve years in the making, is a completely virtual school based on the Moodle platform. It is essentially directed towards economically vulnerable sectors such as single mothers, working citizens, youths being held in detention centres, etc. it offers 50% of its users full scholarships.

Finally, with regards to how I see the future of massive online learning platforms, or MOOCs, in Ecuador, I can say that the country has been making great strides in relation to the incorporation of innovative technologies. The aforementioned examples are at the forefront in terms of e-learning platforms. The challenge is to actually materialise the automated evaluation of essays by using artificial intelligence processes in Spanish. This is where the future of education is.

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