You roll out a “Global Thinking and Global Competences” course for the people in your city. It seems to be quite popular with high participation and great interest in its continuation from the participants. Due to this success, you think that it might be a good idea to run the same course for the inhabitants of the villages around to allow them to enhance their knowledge on that. As you wanted to attract as many learners as possible, you’ve tried to promote it through various means (social media, local radio, and so on). A few days before its beginning, there is almost no interest in participating from the local community, something that makes you postpone it indefinitely. How could you approach potential learners differently? What cooperations might be useful? What is the best way of engaging learners throughout the whole process?
Solving the Problem
Studying your potential target group, identifying their context and needs, and what is missing based on that must always be your initial steps. Based on their context and environment, people’s needs and interests differ considerably. In this case, a course on global thinking worked for a particular population (city people) but might not be something that people in villages find appealing. Propose courses that meet what they like and need, and not something that worked in a different context.
Approaching potential learners, discussing with them, getting to know them, and including them throughout the whole process are key to attract them and keep them engaged in the long run. You could reach some potential learners and organize prep-sessions with them, where you can express your interest in creating something for them. Ask them to contribute, and in that way keep them motivated and prove that what is driving the whole process is the interest in their needs and preferences.
Reach and establish partnerships with people -education providers, educators, volunteers, and so on- who live or come from those areas and have a good knowledge of the local population and the area itself. Involving people who perfectly know your target group is always valuable and what usually makes the difference. Initially, it might be easier to contact people you know and have worked with, in case there are any, and they can help you further drawing your plan, but also bring you in touch with their local network.
Solving the Problem – Discussing with educators
Needs assessment is key to understand what adults in the community might need. What would be the best way to carry it out? Where would it be possible for you to meet the community? Do you have any contacts who could facilitate it?
Research shows that professional development is one of the main incentives for adults to participate in learning. How different is the labour market in the community and who could help you research it? Is there a way for you to get local employers on board?
Points for Discussion with Policy Makers
No size fits all, and adult learning needs might be very different across the country. The barriers faced by adults to participate in learning, or the best ways for outreach, might also be very different. Adult learning policies need to allow enough flexibility for providers to adapt their curricula, schedules and even venues as they see appropriate. Decentralization of decision-making and funding down to the regional or local level can also support adult learning strategies that take into account the differences and inequalities across the country.