Adult education still involves adults learning new information, but the setting is more formal. Lessons are planned with actual deadlines for assignments. Purposes for adult education are varied, but they frequently involve maintaining or gaining qualifications to improve job performance (Merriam and Brockett, 2007).
For the learner, there are advantages and disadvantages to this more structured system. The student is no longer required to hunt down resources. Someone else does the lesson planning (Brookfield, 2003). An instructor or expert is available to answer questions that come up, and in the end, the student often gains a certificate or diploma to show verify their new competence in the area of study.
There are problems with the more formal system. First, there are deadlines. The student cannot study something whenever they wish. Assignments must be done on time according to a specific schedule.
Expectations might also be higher. Studying a new subject of interest alone doesn’t carry a stigma of failure if the student chooses to end the study or fails to learn the material. Formal education typically assigns grades and gives feedback.
Brookfield, S. D. (2003). Adult education learning model. In A. DiStefano, K. E. Rudestam, & R. Silverman (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distributed learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from http://sage-ereference.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/view/distributedlearning/n9.xml
Merriam, S. B., & Brockett, R. G. (2007). The profession and practice of adult education: An introduction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.