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What can extension provide?

According to the Mission and Vision outlined in the University of Wyoming Extension strategic plan, the University of Wyoming Extension will be recognized and respected for providing lifelong learning opportunities for the people of Wyoming and empowering them to make choices that will enhance their quality of life. With the land-grant university as our foundation, UW Extension will be the leader in outreach education throughout the state. We will actively involve Wyoming people, institutions, and communities as we provide learning for better living. We will be responsive to the needs, concerns, and aspirations of diverse audiences.

The purpose of education is to develop individuals into lifelong learners who are able to adapt to changing conditions and times. [1] Adult educators must be in the business of providing resources and support for lifelong learners. This is core to the mission and vision of the University of Wyoming Extension. Knowles adds that emphasis must be placed on developing delivery methods and guidance for getting resources to lifelong learners. [1] [2] Resources may take the form of brochures and bulletins, one-on-one consultation, or informal courses.

There are different roles informal courses play in an organization to include: when it is desired to develop special skills, when it is desired to produce changes in attitude, when it is desired to provide short-term exploratory experiences in preparation for long-run program, and when it is desired to attract a diversified clientele. [3] Informal learning courses are not for credit but they do have a goal.


When we get adult learners, we may get them with some resistance to education. There are barriers to adult learning: some did not like formal school, some believe they are no longer capable of learning, and some are concerned what others may say about them. [3] According to Knowles, adult learners who return to learning are frustrated by being treated as children. [1]

Because of this resistance to education, individuals will often seek help from nonprofessional sources such as friends and family 68% of the time, and seek help from professionals or books 32% of the time. [4] Learners avoid professionals because of the professional helpers desire to over control. According to Tough, professional helpers need to fight the urge to over control; the learner seeking change must ultimately choose the strategy. Tough provides six reasons for over-control by the professional

  • Professional believes they should be in control.
  • We have certain beliefs that we try to push onto others.
  • We may have strong emotions when in control of others.
  • Sometimes helpers are insecure in letting others have control.
  • In tense situations, helpers may revert to authoritarian methods.
  • Some individuals being helped expect the professional to help them. [4]

People will often turn control over to a professional helper in the implementation stage. [4] Essentially, we must give learners space to choose the strategy and provide help to implement that strategy when asked.

How training departments can best support clients

To be successful as a provider of instruction courses or materials, the learner must be at the center of the planning and execution. It is important that program planning is based on the participation of the constituents not based on the feelings of the staff. [1] Learners must be continuously asked what they want to learn and build around that. Additionally, schedule informal courses when it is most convenient to members. [3]

Throughout instruction, learners should be pointed towards resources that will help them when they are not in class. According to Shackleton-Jones, teach learners when to become aware and to refer to a reference. [5] Shackleton-Jones also recommends developing awareness learning modules that will expose learners to new materials and resources.

As developers of instruction, educators and training departments need to:

  • Develop training materials,
  • Help others learn training needs,
  • Develop learning guides,
  • Help others access learning resources, and
  • Show others how to share knowledge [6]

Here are guidelines developed by Malcolm Knowles that will help with determining what subjects to offer for adult learners:

  • Establish a goal of the number of courses in a program.
  • Every program should have a core of needed courses.
  • A general program of informal courses should offer a balanced selection.
  • Subjects should be selected in line with the organization.
  • Should not offer duplicate or conflicting courses of other organizations.
  • Courses should fit within time constraints.
  • Objectives should be clearly stated.
  • Organize course by topic or function.
  • Balance between courses that produce income and subsidy.
  • Select course based on seasonal interests and current developments in human affairs.
  • Have multiple instructors teach courses in the same evening. [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (Rev. and Updated.). Chicago: Association Press.
  2. Mocker, D. W., Spear, G. E., ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, C., & Vocational Education, C. (1982). Lifelong learning: Formal, nonformal, informal, and self-directed. Information Series No. 241. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Knowles, M. S. (1950). Informal adult education: A guide for administrators, leaders, and teachers. New York, NY: Associate Presse.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Tough, A. (1982). Intentional changes: A fresh approach to helping people change. Chicago, Ill.: Follett Pub. Co.
  5. Shackleton-Jones, N. (2008). Informal learning and the future. Training Journal, 38 – 41.
  6. Tobin, D. (2000). All learning is self-directed: How organizations can support and encourage independent learning. Alexandria VA: ASTD.

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