B. Barrett

American Public University (UNITED STATES)
There is a change in the educational environment in terms of returning adult learners and their reasons for returning back for additional education and training. Two key reasons why adults are seeking additional education are the need for further education is immediate skills training and career advancement. Along with these reasons, more adult learners are looking at the long-term investment and whether or not their additional education and training will help them during their lifelong endeavors. Consequently, can these additional learning events help them over the period of their lifetime and perhaps help them to continue with lifelong learning? Knowles (1980) noted that “adult [learners] see education as a process of developing increased competence to achieve their full potential in life. They want to be able to apply whatever knowledge and skill they gain today to life more effective tomorrow.” Thus, this raises the question of whether our educational institutions are offering enough learning opportunities to help satisfy the needs of the adult learner, as well as meeting the growing workforce needs of society’s business needs. Further, are adults returning back to education in order to meet short-term versus long-term needs and wants?
This presentation will examine how one virtual university has addressed the learning needs of today’s working adults, provided additional skills training for workforce needs, and enable adult learners with skills and training to prepare for lifelong learning events and career plans. While many universities focus on meeting the intended learning needs, some schools focus on the current learning objectives and addressing future skills training and educational needs of their adult learners. One way virtual universities can address both areas is by developing learning applications that address current learning objectives, but also focus on learning activities that can link classroom learning to real world applications.
Many universities are starting to examine their graduate business curriculum, this presentation will focus on how one virtual university has started to redesign their graduate business courses to offer more real world learning and help their adult learners to gain value through their learning and participation. The main focus of this presentation will focus on how one virtual university has implemented the use of e-portfolios into their Organizational Consulting course. Instead of requiring short writing assignments, the learners focus on developing a potential consulting practices/business. During this course, the students focus on a niche market and a particular field of specialization to focus their consultant practice. The students develop a series of business materials to use in the establishment of a consulting practice, as well as creating an e-portfolio for academic credit and for use as e-portfolio for future job interviews. The presentation will focus on how academics, practitioners, and adult learners can benefit from the use of e-portfolios and how they can create academic and career development opportunities and learning events. Learning should be an ongoing process, and the use of virtual learning can help create and implement improved and more interactive learning opportunities for adult learners.