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Adult Education Academy

Adult Education Academy 2024

Every February, the Professorship for Adult and Continuing Education hosts the Adult Education Academy (formerly: Winter School) where students, colleagues from the field (so called “practitioners”), and lecturers from around the world exchange on international perspectives of adult education and lifelong learning.

During the intensive programme of two weeks, analytical and comparative skills in adult education are being trained in an international environment. An understanding of internationally relevant educational policies in the context of lifelong learning is provided, while communication, teambuilding skills and critical thinking are strengthened by working together in this international setting.

Connecting theory and practice

During the first week of the AEA, participants took a closer look at strategies and theories in adult education while being divided into two different groups, each with a different focus. Prof. Regina Egetenmeyer, head of the Professorship for Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Würzburg, and Prof. Paula Guimarães, assistant professor at the Institute of Education of the University of Lisboa, Portugal, served as moderators in the first group, supported by guest lecturers with input on policy perspectives in adult education and lifelong learning.

Prof. Licínio Lima from the University of Minho, Portugal, moderated the second group and focused on readings and discussions of selected writings by Paulo Freire. Participants in this group developed their theoretical-analytical abilities on adult education.

The insights were complemented by field visits to adult education institutions in and around Würzburg. The first field visits were in Würzburg, where the participants were able to visit the Volkshochschule, the Kolping Academy, aswell as the Domschule Academy. Those gave insights into the adult education in Würzburg itself. On the next day the participants were able to visit Frankfurt and Nürnberg. Depending on their choice they saw the Deutsche Bahn or the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft in Nürnberg. If the students wanted to see another Volkshochschule, they were able to see the one in Frankfurt, instead of one of the visits in Nürnberg. At last an insight was given into one of the three different adult education associations, that were presented. The frst one was the DVV international (Deutscher Volkshochschulverband international), aswell as the EAEA (European Association for the Education of Adults) and lastly the ICAE (International Council for Adult Education). The students are able to exchange the theory with the practice of the field visits, which is an important part of the Adult Education Academy.

Comparative group work: an international comparison of adult education structures

For the second week, students compared diverse aspects of adult education in nine different groups. One of these comparative groups for example explored how the digitalisation has its impact on adult education. Another group examined how adult education can evoke active democratic citizenship. Comparing these aspects and systems of adult education among the different home countries of the participants helped to analyse the differences and similarities between them.

On the last day of the Adult Education Academy, all groups presented the results of their comparisons to each. The work of the participants was visualised in different ways. Some were an online presentation, which were able to include the online participants, while some made posters during their time in Würzburg. The presentations were a great way to conclude the two weeks of intense lectures and discussions.

The choice of hybrid setting of the Academy

During this years Academy a new way was implemented to deal with the aftermath of the Corona virus. While most of the students were able to attend the Adult Education Academy on site in Würzburg, some could not participate this way. This is why some selected groups of the first and second week were in a hybrid setting, where online participants were together with those in Würzburg. The communication between those two sides was able to be made possible, even for those who were not able to come to Würzburg.