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Athabasca University


MDDE 613: Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

Delivery mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

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

Instructor Spring 2016: Dianne Conrad



Welcome to MDDE 613, Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, an optional course in Athabasca University's Master of Education in Distance Education Program. MDDE 613. Adult learning has never been higher on the agenda of leading policy makers than at the beginning of the 21st century. The focus of this course will be on mapping the territory of adult learning and investigating the significance of andragogy as unique approach to the education of adults. This course examines debates and controversies around self-directed learning. As well, it explores current thinking on social and collective learning. Emancipatory approaches to adult education and the discourse and practices of the learning society are also explicated. Students are invited to join in on the ongoing conversation about the most lucid ways of thinking about adult learning and the implications for putting ourselves into practice.


The course addresses such questions as:

  1. What differentiates adult learning off from other fields of study or disciplines?

  2. Can we integrate the multiplicity of ideas about and theories of adult learning into a coherent framework? Should we?

  3. What do we need to know, be and do as teachers of adults in its many contexts?

  4. What is the attraction to adult educators of the idea of self-directed learning?

  5. How do theorists explain individual and social learning theory?

  6. What role does adult learning play in processes of enlightenment, empowerment, public pedagogy and emancipatory action?

  7. What cultural and institutional changes must occur for the vision of the just learning society to be enacted?

By the time you complete this course you should have at least some tentative and some developing answers to these and other questions. However it should be noted that you will not find one overarching model which will account for all adult learning.


Course Objectives

Throughout the course, the following objectives are intended to guide your study:

  1. Understand the origins of the modern practice of adult education.

  2. Craft and understand your own personal mission statement referring to the practice of adult education.

  3. Thoughtfully consider the individual and social dimensions of adult learning.

  4. Take a considered position on the philosophy and practices of self-directed learning.

  5. Take a considered position on the philosophy and practices of self-directed learning.

  6. Identify different approaches to emancipatory learning and make strong arguments for a particular approach.

  7. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the learning society paradigm and public pedagogy and their potential contribution to our time.


Course Outline

  • Unit 1: In Quest of a Map of the Territory

  • Unit 2: Theory Building in Adult Education: Questioning our Grasp of the Obvious

  • Unit 3: The Individual as Learner

  • Unit 4: Social and Collective Learning

  • Unit 5: Dreams of Emancipation

  • Unit 6: From Lifelong Education to the Just Learning Society


Student Evaluation

In this course, the student's final grade will be composed of the following:

Conference Participation: Students are expected to participate in the course forums.


Assignment 1 - Reflective Journal: Students will write a sustained and reflective account of their engagement with the course.


Assignment 2 - Short Paper: Based on the some of the readings in the course, students will present their "map of the territory" of adult education.


Assignment 3 - Application of adult education theory: Write a 2000 word paper on one of two options.


Assignment 4 - Critical pedagogy and adult education: A presentation and summary paper.



Please note that some changes in schedules and/or specifics of assignments may be made from time to time or by individual instructors.

All course resources are available online via Moodle.


Get Started Early

Early access to the Learning Management System, Moodle, 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 automatically become active.


Last updated by MM April 21, 2016

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