Harvard dean looks at changing face of adult learning

KUSA - One of the country's foremost experts on adult learning is in Denver Thursday. Dean Hunt Lambert heads up the Harvard Division Of Continuing Education and he shared his vision of adult learning's future on 9NEWS 8 a.m.

Lambert is no stranger to Colorado. Before Harvard snatched him away, he held a similar post at Colorado State University. Lambert believes the adult learners of today have complex and sometimes competing responsibilities, and they're on information overload.

He says his goal is to work with faculty to package teaching and learning options to help adult learners with short- and long-term knowledge goals. Lambert says technology can be both a blessing and a curse in that regard. "We are very proficient at using technology-enhanced teaching and learning in professional fields, math, and science," Lambert said. "We are less so in the humanities and social sciences."

Lambert believes online tools lend themselves very well to fact and data learning. "Our challenge is to figure out how to improve the tools available for developing critical thinking skills and to invent new ways to use technology-based tools to enhance learning related to moral reasoning," he said.

One of the biggest challenges to adult learning according to Lambert is what's known as "disruptive innovation."

"I have spent much of my life in the middle of rapidly changing technology, markets, and regulation," according to Lambert. "This is where higher education is today. The industry is going to restructure, and it is naïve to pretend we know how it will look long term. We know content will become free, packaging will change, and willingness to pay for exceptional teaching and learning environments will remain strong."

Lambert says a number of key elements need to be preserved if continuing education is to remain relevant: academic freedom; access for all kinds of learners; support for motivated learners; creation of new knowledge; and sharing of that knowledge globally.


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