Thursday, December 23, 2010

IACE Hall of Fame: Helping Across Generations

I am just completing my term as Chair of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.  This fall, we held our annual induction ceremony at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara.  Below is an article about that event that I wrote for the Hall of Fame Newsletter:

After this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Guadalajara, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on the Role of Continuing and Distance Education in the Knowledge Society at the Mexican Association for Continuing and Distance Education. Jose Morales Gonzales (HOF 2002) offered an opening statement that addressed the many ways in which technology and globalization are affecting society and, in turn, education. He then asked each panelist to respond briefly to a question targeted at their special role in the field.

I was asked about how continuing and distance education respond to the needs of the Information Revolution and what role can the Hall of Fame and its members can play in this new era.

I noted that we are already a generation into the Information Revolution. There are many ways to define the beginning of this new era. However, my personal milestone is the publication, in 1970, of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, the book that first planted in the popular mind the idea that things had changed and would continue to change dramatically. The careers of many Hall of Famers span this period. They are the first generation of adult and continuing education scholars and practitioners whose total careers were spent helping our institutions, our students, and our policy agencies adapt to the new reality that was emerging in the first generation of the Knowledge Society. That experience can provide an invaluable roadmap for today’s emerging leaders, who will spend their careers shaping the second generation of the Knowledge Society.

Several of the societal needs created by the Knowledge Society strike to the core competencies of adult and continuing educators. Most will agree that the Knowledge Society will require more individuals to have some level of postsecondary education. This will require that our colleges and universities dramatically increase access to both recent high school graduates and to current workers. This necessity will move continuing and distance education closer to the mainstream of higher education. It will also stimulate new collaborations between institutions—an area where many Hall of Fame members have been innovators.

In short, adult and continuing education has much to offer in the Knowledge Society, and members of the International Adult and Continuing Education can play an important role in helping emerging Second Generation leaders transform the mainstream of higher education in our countries around the world.