Cultures of program planning in adult education: policies, autonomy, and innovation

German Institute for Adult Education (DIE)
Monday, 28 September, 2015 - 00:00 to Tuesday, 29 September, 2015 - 00:00

The conference  is organized by the expert group on program planning and analyses in Germany and takes place prior to the annual conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Erziehungswisseschaft – Sektion Erwachsenenbildung (Division “Adult Education”).

The following members of the expert group are in charge of the present call for papers: Dr. Marion Fleige and Dr. Klaus Heuer (German Institute for Adult Education, Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning), Prof. Aiga von Hippel, Prof. Bernd Käpplinger, Prof. Wiltrud Gieseke (Humboldt University, Berlin), Prof. Steffi Robak (Leibniz University Hannover).

The conference is a cooperative effort by the Leibniz University Hannover, the German Institute for Adult Education, Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning, and the Humboldt University, Berlin.

As yet, program planning in adult education has not been well researched on an international level. This is rather surprising, considering that the planning and provision of programs for adults is one of the core activities of the personnel working in adult education. Furthermore, crucial issues of adult education concerning policies, autonomy, or innovation may be focused by taking a closer look at programs and by investigating how they are developed.

The professional action of program planning comprises all activities needed for developing programs, individual educational courses, or projects. It is about finding topics, formulating offers and bundling different contents into programs or even profiles of organizations of adult and further education.

Program planning secures the curricular structures/supply structures of organizations of adult and further education; – it even and above all legitimizes the organization as such. Programs reveal trends and developments in the diverse content areas (areas of study) of adult and further education (arts and culture, health, languages, professional training, basic education, etc.); they throw light on the specific concept of education and/or competence they reflect at a given time as well as on the addressees they aim at and the manner in which these are addressed.

The analyses of programs and of planning actions create links to diverse discourses; these can refer to types of organizations (adult education center, university, company and so forth), to topic or content areas (e.g. art/cultural education), to regions and localities (e.g. Berlin), to educational-political instruments and policies (education vouchers, paid educational leave), or to individual providers (e.g. Protestant Adult Education). The analysis also refers to the presentation of programs, the aim of which is, on the one hand, to reach the addressees and, on the other, to document the courses offered. A program may be distributed in the form of a book, a brochure, a flyer, through the internet, or as advertisement etc.

And, last but not least, the analysis comprises the forms of action themselves and their framework conditions. (Gieseke/Gorecki 2000; Gieseke/Robak 2004; Robak 2004; Gieseke 2008; Käpplinger 2006; Heuer/Hülsmann/Reichart 2008; von Hippel 2011, 2013; Fleige 2011; Enoch/Gieseke 2011; Robak 2014; Feige/Reichart 2014 - Caffarella/Deffron 2013, Cervero/Wilson 1994, Kvatchadze u.a. 2012, Sava 2012, Sork 2010; Käpplinger/Sork 2015)

These research questions are going to be the subject of the international conference of the expert group on program research. The focus will be on accentuations in the field of policies, autonomy, and innovation in planning:

  • Hard factors in program planning are policies, legal regulations and financing flows. Adult education relies on active processes of institutionalization. In the field of schooling, at least in most countries, these would be regulated through compulsory school attendance and through a more or less nationwide state provision of schooling. This is not the case in adult education where the program is flexible and the creative concepts and pedagogical professionalism are dependent on those pedagogues responsible for the planning actions. For this, policies and modes of financing are needed which secure the interplay between supply and demand and the organizations of adult and further education needed in that equation. Within this framework, program planning requires the consideration of institutional and social structures of expectation with regard to adult education and its use, of social needs and individual learning needs. This planning action are ensured by the educational management which secures resources, makes the programs known and, together with the planners, decides on priorities in the programs, thus giving a content-related profile to the organization of adult and further education.
  • Within these fields of tension specific to adult and further education, actions of program planning are characterized by leeway and restrictions, dependencies and paradoxes. Those members of the pedagogical staff responsible for planning need to create a balance between the diverse demands and their personal pedagogical and professional convictions. This process has been defined as “alignment action” (“Angleichungshandeln”) by Gieseke/Gorecki (2000). There are manifold ways of developing a program or an offer of a range of courses, be it as continuation of proven (well-selling) classes, as adjustment, or as reconceptualization. According to the insights we have gained so far, pedagogical innovations behave not only reactively, they also proactively lay the ground for social developments. Planning is carried out in a successive mode, based on sedimentary forms of planning action (“knowledge islands”, “Wissensinseln”, ibid.) which allow for relative autonomy and for professionalism in these actions.

Within the international context, different concepts have evolved which subsume these complex activities: program planning, program delivering, curriculum development. In addition to obvious conceptual differentiations used to describe similar forms of action, these concepts suggest different foci emphasizing planning, management, or processes of institutionalization. These could point to subtle differences in acting, to different theoretical traditions, or to differences in the forms of institutions, the structures of the systems, or the policies regarding adult and further education.

Against this background, the following questions will be addressed at the international conference of the expert group on program planning:

  • How does a program evolve?
  • What are the guiding didactic and theoretical premises, fields of knowledge, and educational-theoretical interpretations?
  • What is the scope of action between political and other management interests in the diverse countries?
  • Which autonomous scopes of action exist?
  • How do program innovations emerge and which content-related program innovations are evident in the different countries at the moment?
  • Which types of adult and further education organizations develop these programs in the respective countries?
  • How are program planners prepared for their job in the respective countries?
  • Which forms of presentation are used for the programs in the different countries and how are they meant to support target group appeal?

On the one hand, the investigations in this area which will be presented at the conference are meant to clarify country specifics, on the other, they are to provide information on basic comparative categories, developments, and questions. Which work concepts do we presuppose, which will certainly differ from country to country? What do the respective conceptualizations depend on and which implications do they carry?

The conference has five objectives to which you should, at least partly, relate your paper:

  1. To stimulate exchange between scholars and establish international networks in the field of program planning and program analysis, because, today, adult education science is increasingly confronted with the challenge of implementing scientific dialogue and networking in transnational and international contexts. (Please try to submit papers that are presented in such a way that they are accessible to an international audience.)
  2. To make research on program planning and program analysis more visible on an international level. To analyze and compare different models used to explain program planning. To contextualize program planning within diverse national and international contexts. To shed light on tensions and contradictions between new public management, educational actions and provisions.
  3. To find comparative frameworks for international research on program planning. To highlight differences and commonalities with regard to terminologies, categories, theories, and methods. To map the field of research on program planning.
  4. To present existing archives that collect programs. To discuss possible ways of access and of meeting new challenges such as the digital shift. What kinds of innovations are made possible by being able to access programs worldwide rather easily via the internet?
  5. To make visible study programs in adult education that teach program planning. How are key competences in program planning being taught? Which challenges are being encountered and what kind of innovative solutions are being found in teaching program planning, – a field that is generally not being considered fashionable at present?

The conference will comprise three formats:

  1. Two parallel seminars, in which research papers will be presented. Sufficient time for discussion will be reserved after each presentation. When submitting a paper for the seminars, please indicate which of the following two tracks you would like to relate your paper to:
  • The theory of program planning: planning autonomy and program innovations: How does adult education find and implement contents? Why does adult education rely on programs rather than on curricula (as opposed to schools)? Which theories have evolved to describe and explain program planning? Which contents do actually matter and are innovative? Which explicit or implicit assumptions, concepts, and educational needs can be traced on the basis of program analysis? How can we describe and analyse the planning activities and practices of adult education personnel? Which terms and concepts do we/they use? How do we deal with the relations and tensions between educational concepts (needs, life-world orientation, didactics, etc.) and rather managerial concepts of the business world (marketing, management, product, etc.)? How does planning work in different educational organizations (public organizations, NGOs, cultural organizations, enterprises, etc.) and fields (art/culture, health, societal issues, vocational education, see above)? How is the theory of planning being dealt with and how is it being taught in university programs for future adult educators?
  • Program planning, institutionalization, and policy analysis: How do public policies (funding, laws, regulations, etc.) and supplier policies affect program planning? How do public policies impede or facilitate autonomous educational actions and provisions? On which levels (transnational, international, national, or regional) have relevant policies been implemented and how are they interrelated? Which micro policies do exist within educational organizations or institutions? Which affirmative or which counter strategies do practitioners follow in dealing with these different policies and in creating leeway for their own professional autonomy?
  1. Workshops focusing on the discussion and analysis of real adult education programs (brochures, leaflets, PDF files on the internet, etc.). All participants are kindly asked to contribute selected adult education programs from their own national or even transnational background. These workshops will have true workshop character with open discussions, perhaps leading to collaborative innovations. When submitting a paper for the workshops please portray the programs (area of study, format of publication/presentation) as well as the type of organization that maintain them. If possible, please indicate what they are typical of.
  2. An exhibition of various archives in which programs are collected. Guided tours will be given to introduce participants to these archives and their developments. When submitting a paper for this format please characterize the respective archive including the area(s) of study and types of organization that are represented and portray the scientific interest as well as the ways in which the archive is used. Also indicate how you would like to present your archive in the exhibition and how you are going to relate your contribution to the issues outlined in this call. When submitting for this format please use the short questionnaire (“profile of archive”) attached.

We welcome contributions dealing with the issues formats outlined above. Please submit your abstracts to [email protected] or to [email protected] by January 15th, 2015. We will get back to you by March 15th, 2015.

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