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Athabasca University


MDDE 611: Foundations of Adult Education

Delivery mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

Prerequisites: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only

Precluded Course: MDDE 611 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for Athabasca University's EDUC 309

Instructor: Cynthia Blodgett-Griffin



MDDE 611: Foundations of Adult Education introduces the purposes of adult education, and provides an overview of adult education theory and practice. Although the course is not intended as a comprehensive examination of the field of adult education, it will provide you with a foundation for studying other adult education courses and related fields.

A complementary course to MDDE 611 within the MEd and MAIS programs is MDDE 613 Adult Education and Lifelong Learning.


Course Goals

The goals of the course are to provide you with the following skills and knowledge:

  • Critically discuss the foundations of adult education;

  • Describe the dominant theoretical perspectives in adult education and relate them to practice;

  • Identify and discuss the key social, economic, and political issues that currently affect adult education.

  • Analyze an adult education issue using an integrated approach;

  • Discuss how adult education theory relates to distance education;

  • Discuss your informed, critical perspective on the purpose of adult education for the 21st century.
  • Course Outline

    The course is composed of seven units:

    Unit 1: Exploring the Foundations

    Unit 2: Understanding the Social

    Unit 3: Education for Economy

    Unit 4: Education for Transformation

    Unit 5: Education for Diversity

    Unit 6: Education at a Distance: Online and Open

    Unit 7: Canadian Adult Education in a Global Context


    Student Assessment

    Students will be assessed on the basis of three assignments, and course participation.

    Assignment 1: Chapter Review (25%)

    Assignment 2: Program Critique Group Presentation (25%)

    Assignment 3: Research Paper (30%)

    Course Participation: (20%)

    Course Materials

    Online Study Guide and Readings.


    Athabasca University (1988). Perspectives: On adult education. (Interviews with Malcolm Knowles, Allen Tough, Patricia Cross and Roger Boshier). Athabasca, AB: AU Press. (E-text)

    Freire, P. (2003). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Revised 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Continuum. [Original work published 1970]. (E-text)

    Nesbit, T., Brigham, S., Taber, N., & Gibb, T. (Eds.) (2013). Building on critical traditions: Adult education and learning in Canada. Toronto, ON: Thompson Educational Publishing.

    Spencer, B., & Lange E. (2014). The purposes of adult education: A short introduction. Toronto, ON: Thompson.

    Welton, M. (Ed.) (1987). Knowledge for the people. Toronto, ON: OISE. (E-text)


    Get Started Early

    Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited access to the course. On the Official Start Date of the course, instructors will be available and the discussion forums will become active.


    Last updated by MM April 23, 2017

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