The successful participation of adults in lifelong learning depends
crucially on the availability of qualified staff in the adult and
continuing education sector.
Current developments such as the changes in learning and teaching
methods, new learning offers and environments, the need to combine
formal, non-formal and informal learning, to develop guidance and
counselling for adult learners, to promote and market learning offers
etc. imply a considerable change and expansion of the roles and work
activities of adult educators. The updating of their skills and
competences is therefore of crucial importance for improving the
conditions under which learning of adults can take place successfully.
For the professional development of adult educators it is important
to realise that this group is far from begin homogeneous. Rather it
includes a wide range of actors who differ considerably in terms of
occupational status and educational background and who perform very
different types of activities in their job.
If adult education is understood as comprising every type of activity
that is performed in order to enable and support the learning of adults,
it becomes clear that adult education involves much more than teaching
or training in the narrower sense. Besides teaching/training, adult
education work involves other important fields of activity such as
educational management, policy and administration, guidance and
counselling, or technical and organisational support.
In the concrete work places and jobs these types of activity may then
be combined in different ways, and, what is more, they may be combined
with other activities that do not relate to adult learning. As opposed
to other educational sectors, it is characteristic of adult and
continuing education that only a minority of adult educators work full
time in the sector. Of these, again, only a minority is permanently
employed whereas many others earn a precarious living as free-lancers.
Many adult educators work as a sideline in the sector. For other groups,
adult education activities represent just one bigger or smaller part of
their regular job. As a consequence, although their activity does
contribute to promoting learning of adults, quite a few of these people
will not even consider themselves as adult educators.
Strategies to promote professional development and quality in the
field of adult learning will need to give attention to all these
different groups. However, so far few reliable data are available on the
actors in adult and continuing education in Europe and little is known
about the situation of their professional development.
The European Commissionís Call for tender on Adult Learning
Professions in Europe (no DG EAC/35/2006), launched in July 2006, was a
first important step to collect relevant data at a European level. It
has confirmed both the importance of this target group and the need for
further action concerning their professional development.
Aim and Structure of the Conference
The three-day conference is designed to highlight the key role of
staff in adult and continuing education (ACE) in ensuring provision of
high quality learning offers for adults in the field of formal,
non-formal and informal learning. The conference pursues three aims:
- present the state of art of professional development of ACE
staff in Europe in different working fields;
- initiate a European dialogue between ACE researchers,
practitioners, project leaders, policy makers and educational
administration representatives about the current state of art and
ways to improve the situation;
- formulate recommendations for the improvement of the situation
and discuss them with policy makers.
Plenary keynote speeches will highlight general aspects of the
topic in the European perspective, both from a policy and a research
point of view.
Thematic workshops over the first two days will be devoted to
different types of activity in the field of adult learning (teaching and
learning, training and development, counselling and guidance, policy
making and managing, organisation and technical supporrt, evaluating and
assessing). The workshops will review existing research and current
practices in Europe, identify skill and competence needs, and discuss
possible strategies for improving the professional development. In each
workshop, one or more short input presentations will provide the basis
for further discussion in the group. On the first day, the workshops
will concentrate on reviewing the state of the art; on the second day
the same thematic workshops will discuss perspectives for the future and
A Plenary discussion with policy makers on the realisation of
the recommendations will conclude the conference on the third day.
Two Poster Sessions will be arranged on the first two days.
The first session will include country presentations of the current
situation of adult education staff and their professional development.
In the poster session of the second day best practice examples - both
national and transnational projects and initiatives - in the field of
professional development of adult and continuing education staff will be
presented. In this context there will also be space to discuss plans for
new projects with European colleagues.
Target groups of the conference
Target groups are ACE practitioners and ACE experts on the one hand and
education policy makers and educational administration representatives
on the other. The number of participants will be around 120.
Workshop 1: Teaching and Learning
Workshop 2: Training and
Workshop 3: Counselling and
Workshop 4: Policy making and managing
Workshop 5: Organisation and technical support
Workshop 6: Evaluating and Assessing
Poster Session A: Country specific situation of professionality of
Poster Session B: Initiatives and projects on professional development
of ACE staff