Using Adult Learning Techniques in Adult Education Conferences

John Henschke


Conversation abounds regarding the importance of conducing adult education conference through using adult learning techniques which are consistent with what is known about how adults learn. Many professionals already successfully implement this naturally, and experience very positive feedback and results. But many still struggle with the question, "Why don't we practice on ourselves what we say we believe about adult learning?" The question this paper seeks to explore is: Since the field is not very systematic in this, what needs to happen if it is to change? Much published literature suggests various designs and techniques for making the transition, even in short conference sessions of less than an hour. However, most conference program committees are reluctant to insist on this as a requirement for presenting at the conference. Those seeing this as important need to make and sustain the commitment to accomplish this, using the suggestions of the literature to help follow through. The breakthrough will come as we crack the genetic code and awaken organizations of adult, continuing, extension and community educators (that's us!) to such a level we can't go back to the ruts of our proceduralized, anesthetized, sleep - conducting conference sessions without using adult learning techniques to involve the participants.