By Heather Junke
Brock’s Adult Education programs build “a community of learners.” That is what Patsy Marshall says, a Brock facilitator in the Kitchener-Waterloo region since 2001. “And it’s a community, she adds, that forges relationships for years to come.”
Highly qualified facilitators, like Marshall, are leading small groups of students in classroom settings and in online forums as part of a dynamic learning experience offered by Brock University’s Centre for Adult Education and Community Outreach, located in St. Catharines, Ontario.
This fall, approximately 350 learners are enrolled in the Bachelor of Education (BEd) in Adult Education and in the Certificate in Adult Education parttime programs. Courses are offered both online and face-to-face at as many as 18 locations across Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area. Currently on-site classes in the GTA include the college campuses of Seneca, Humber, Sheridan, Durham and Centennial. These students are involved in two of the longest-running adult education degree and certificate programs in the province.
The BEd in Adult Education program at Brock is unique in Ontario as it offers both first and subsequent degree options. The degree and certificate programs are designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of both aspiring and experienced educators of adults in a diverse range of academic, business and institutional settings or service sectors. The programs feature five Adult Education core courses that focus on learning pedagogies, curriculum design, work-place organization, research and critical reflection. As well, the Centre is developing a bank of Adult Education elective courses for those pursuing their degree requirements.
Shared interests in the field of adult education intersect on many levels between the students and Adult Education facilitators.
“One of the things that I enjoy most as a facilitator is the sharing and learning among participants and myself; our professional and personal growth is unbelievable,” says Marshall. “It’s about building a community of learners that stays intact even after the course has finished.”
Brock’s facilitators come from many fields and educational backgrounds. They live in all corners of Ontario and, in the case of online facilitators, lead courses from as far away as western Canada.
Jim Williams is an online facilitator living in Saskatchewan. He believes students are involved in a transformative experience. “I love seeing the progress the learners make,” he says. “I especially love it when a learner has one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments.”
Williams is always impressed with the calibre of students attracted to the programs. “Learners who enter the ADED program are highly motivated and they bring valuable life experiences to the program,” he adds.
Rob Goldberg fully agrees. He has been facilitating courses in the Greater Toronto area for several years. “These students come here with purpose,” he says. “They are deliberate and very intentional students. They are dedicated to the learning.
“The personalities behind the students add value to the classroom experience. Everyone has a unique story and different perspective. The learners, after time, become comfortable enough with their facilitator and cohort to open up and share their unique thoughts. This enriches the experience,” Goldberg adds. The programs are contributing to meeting an increasing demand for adult education specialists to work in many vocational and post-secondary settings.
“Many progressive institutions today require a degree or certificate in Adult Education for their new recruits,” says Goldberg. “This education along with a portfolio of experience in the field impacts greatly upon their opportunities for career advancement.”
“Some of our graduates have applied their program knowledge and practice to advance in their careers, while others move on to pursue a master’s degree,” says Marshall.
As for the facilitators, they are learning alongside their students. “This experience makes me better at what I do,” adds Goldberg. “Each week I learn from the session topic, the readings, and from my interaction with the group of students. It makes me reflect critically on my practice.”
Anyone interested in Brock University’s Adult Education certificate or degree program may apply for admission to the 2011 winter or fall sessions. For more information, visit http://brocku.ca/ education/departmentsandcentres/caeco