Good Practice in the Area of Flexible Deliivery of Higher Education Progrmmes and Learning Provisions for Adults
The adult education research at HEIs in Latvia has been executed inside the project ,,Opening Higher Education to adults” (Dollhausen, K., Wolter, A. et al., 2013) funded by the European Commission Directorate General of Education and Culture on Developing the Adult Learning in 2012 – 2013. The project “Opening Higher Education to Adults - HEAD” aimed at a comprehensive study on factors impacting on the participation of adults in higher education (HE) and on the flexible delivery of HE programmes and learning provisions for adult learners within higher education institutions (HEIs). The overall objective of this project is to derive conclusions and recommendations for action to be taken at European, national and regional level to open higher education to adults. The country reports which are authorized by a cluster of national experts from different European countries are one important information and evidence base for the analyses in the framework of the study.
The main objective of the country report is to create an overview on adult education research conducted at HEIs which is related to flexible delivery of HE programmes and flexible learning provisions for adult learners. The analysis of existing adult education research primarily aims at identifying flexible delivery of HE programmes and flexible learning provisions which are conducive to good adult learner performance and to increase the participation of adults in HE.
The indicators of best practice had be provided by the the project “Opening Higher Education to adults” which was launched at the German Institute for Adult Education in Bonn and at Humboldt University Berlin. In the preparation phase of the project a detailed description of countries research tasks and guidance for countries survey had been made in the form of the manual for country studies; an overview on indicators for the selection of best practice examples and a glossary on relevant key terms and concepts to screen the adult education research undertaken in HEIs with regard to descriptions and analyses of good or best practice to identify examples of flexible HE programmes and learning provisions which can be considered as particularly remarkable in terms of openness, impacting good learner performance, innovativeness, transferability and sustainability and which in your view could be suitable candidates for the case study envisaged.
The country report contains information and evidence on background research at national level with regard to: 1) definitions of ‘adults’ in HE and specifications of the target group of adult learners in HE, 2) statistical data sources concerning the participation and situation of adults in HE, 3) regulatory and financial issues, so as adult education research undertaken in HEIs related to the flexible delivery of HE programs and flexible learning provisions for adult learners with regard to: 1) factors that facilitate or inhibit adult participation in HE, 2) the importance of flexible delivery of HE programmes and flexible learning, 3) provisions at HEIs to attract adult learners. And three selected examples of good practice in the area of flexible delivery of HE programmes and flexible learning provisions for adult learners are provided.
The country report consists in collecting, screening and analyzing adult education research undertaken in HEIs related to the flexible delivery of HE programmes and flexible learning provisions within HEIs. The analyzing results in a bibliography with résumés of the subjects and main research findings of the relevant research projects. From these mapping results conclusions on flexible delivery of HE programmes and flexible learning provisions, which are conducive to good adult learner performance and to increase the participation of adults in HE are derived.
The mapping of adult education research at HEIs is executed mainly as desk research. The study builds on available documents and sources, e.g. pertinent studies, publications, data bases and networks which exist at the international, national or regional level. In addition, relevant documents produced by the EU institutions are taken into account. Further information has been gathered by telephone interviews with researchers in Latvia and with responsible actors within HEIs. The unit structure for all countries reporting were used, and selected information has been fitted into a paper of approximately 20 to 30 pages.
The analyzing has covered the follows topics according to the specific situation in Latvia: 1) key concept of 'Adult learners'; 2) Information on important regulatory issues and policies; 3) Information about statistical data sources on adults in higher education; 4) Information on developments and implementation regarding opening HE to adults at different levels. Research mapping of adult education research at HEIs regards the flexible delivery of higher education programmes and flexible learning provisions consists of 1) the commented list of research projects; 2) Exploring of Higher education institutions offering flexible delivery of higher education programmes; 3) analyses of types of learning provisions; 4) analyzes on factors that facilitate or inhibit the participation of adults in HE.
Concluded the List of examples of good practice in the area of flexible delivery of higher education programmes and learning provisions for adults available within HEIs (basis for the selection of one case study for each participating country) was provided. At least 3 concrete examples consider particularly good practice were identified, and a short description of each example provided into consideration the questions listed and refereed to the five “Indicators of good practice” (Potential for opening HE to adults, Impact; Innovativeness; Transferability and Sustainability), which description was provided by the core team in a separate document.
The general evaluation of the situation of adult learners in Latvian HE shows the needs of development of the discussion over the last years in follow perspectives: 1) Further criteria and non traditional groups of adult learners have to been specified in Latvia's HE concept in LLL context; 2) More focus on measures to increase openness and participation of adults in HE and structural changes initiated by these measures; 3) Adult educator is not a regulated profession in Latvia; 4) Only formal adult education programmes are counted in NCP'S and ECPS according the Bologna process requirements, and have good opportunity for adapting to EQF levels. The instruments of Validation of prior learning has to been implemented; 6) Present Examples of best practice of different types of flexibility and openness for adult learners have to been applied or transferred in diverse social and cultural contexts; 7) Policies of autonomous HEIs must be reviewed and such policies must be open to flexible and open learning; 8) Infrastructures, structures, systems and processes of HEIs must be reviewed to allow flexible learning; 8) HEIs leaders must also be equipped with 21st century competencies and full understanding of schooling with the use of ICT; 11) Major problem for the HEI in the field of adult education is related to the unstable demand and caused by it unstable financing, is fragmented and situated and lacks uniformity etc.
The main particularities of Latvia in providing of flexibility learning in comparison with other countries are follows: 1) openness of HEIs to adult learners with divers cultural backgrounds provided the studies in flexible combinations of languages of instruction; 2) providing of social interactive self organized e-learning modality with flexible workforce learning outcomes orientation.
The open research questions became apparent during the analyses will be explored in the paper.
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