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Brock University: Online Learning, Lifelong Learning

By ADMIN - November 16 2011

By Heather Junke

Online study has enabled James Pickett to follow a lifelong learning path. He studied online first as a student and then pursued his interest in teaching adult learners online as a facilitator with Brock University’s Adult Education program.

Pickett’s first online learning experience started in 1998 as a student in Brock’s Bachelor of Education (BEd) in Adult Education degree program. Pickett enrolled in the program while serving in the Canadian Forces in Borden, Ont. He was able to take site-based weekend classes as part of the program’s community outreach component.

With a few credits still to finish, Pickett was reassigned to Winnipeg. He was intent on finishing the program and obtaining his second undergraduate degree. Fortunately, Pickett was able to work out arrangements with Brock to complete his degree through online study.

Brock continues to offer students options to pursue its degree and certificate in Adult Education program through online study or community-based class offerings. Pickett has remained connected to the program as a part-time online facilitator since 2005.

Pickett, who is now a project manager with Service Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, has made lifelong learning a priority in his life. Before retiring in 2006 from a 20-year career in the military, Pickett graduated from Royal Military College with a Master of Arts degree. Most recently, he completed his doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. We asked him a few questions about his career:

What attracted you to a career in the Adult Education field?

My initial interest in Adult Education developed after being asked to teach some History courses for the Royal Military College of Canada. I felt after my first course that I had a lot to learn and discovered that Brock had a program in adult education, offering weekend classes at local community colleges. I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to become a better teacher for my students. I have not regretted the decision to study in the Brock program as I feel it more than met this objective.

What do you see as some of the major changes and developments in adult education?

The greatest changes have been in the formalizing of the field. When I started, the study of Adult Education was still in its infancy and trying to show how it differed from the teaching of children. Today it is acknowledged that adults and children learn differently so the way we teach them must be different.

As a long-time Adult Education Facilitator, what do you believe are the top qualities that make someone an effective adult educator?

Patience and compassion are the most important qualities. This is especially important in this field as we are almost always dealing with adults who have full-time jobs and families that also demand their time.

Be prepared to be extremely flexible as life will throw many issues at both you and your students so you will have to be willing to adjust your plans accordingly.

Finally, do it because you love it and wish to enjoy the personal satisfaction of having helped your human beings in reaching their life goals.

Brock University is located in St. Catharines, Ont. The Centre for Adult Education and Community Outreach offers a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education degree program and a Certificate in Adult Education program in online delivery and site-based delivery at venues across Ontario including the GTA. Find out more by visiting

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