9th International Adult Education Academy
Comparative Studies in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning
7-18 February 2022 in Würzburg, Germany
The 9th Adult Education Academy in Würzburg – another successful virtual event
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.
Due to the current circumstances of the COVID-19-pandemic, this year’s AEA was again offered as a fully virtual event. Nonetheless, it was a great success.
Between February 7th – 18th 2022, 84 participants from 19 different countries exchanged, compared, and expanded their individual knowledge and experience within the field of adult and continuing education and lifelong learning. Master’s and doctoral students as well as adult education practitioners and lecturers, for example from Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Nigeria, and Uganda, worked together in the AEA.
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 virtual field visits to adult education institutions in Würzburg. Students were introduced to local institutions such as the Public Fire Fighting Academy, the Continuing Medical Education at the University Hospital, and the Generations Centre Matthias Ehrenfried. Furthermore, students had the opportunity to virtually visit international adult and continuing education institutions and associations such as the Indian Adult Education Association (IAEA, India), the Coimbra Higher Education School – Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra (Portugal), the Institute for International Cooperation of the Deutscher Volkshochschulverband e.V. (DVV International), the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA, Belgium), and the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE). Participants appreciated the important exchange of theory and practice.
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 digital competences can be acquired through study programmes in 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 other via Zoom. With the ePortfolio system WueMahara, participants visualized the outcomes of their work. The presentations were a great way to conclude the two weeks of intense lectures and discussions.
Ongoing coronavirus pandemic necessitates another AEA in online mode
The 2022 edition was again strongly influenced by the circumstances of the pandemic, which made it impossible to invite the participants to travel to Würzburg. Therefore, it became necessary to plan and execute this year’s Adult Education Academy in an online mode as well. Since last year's AEA had already been conducted online, the organizers could build on their experiences from 2021. Despite the circumstance of the pandemic, participants collected diverse experiences and valuable knowledge from their theoretical and practical insights into adult education and lifelong learning as well as the inspired discussions.