Building Social Capital into Your CE Programs
When social capital development is built into the foundation of a well-conceptualized course or program, the learner has the best of both worlds. He or she acquires knowledge and skills relevant to a specific area, and they know what to do with this new learning—that is, how to translate it into action in the so-called ‘real world.’
By Lorraine Carter, Director of Continuing Education, McMaster University
In the earliest days of adult and continuing education, social capital may not have been called such. This should not suggest, though, that it wasn’t integral to adult and continuing education. In 2014, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Scott McLean from the University of Calgary on a book chapter in which we explored the history of adult and continuing education across the country. While differences presented themselves on a regional basis, a common theme across diverse geographic regions was how adult and continuing education extended the adult learner’s knowledge, skills, and networks. Interestingly, to some extent, the terms extended education and extended learning are still used today.
While, in certain contexts, extended education may have meant correspondence-based learning, in others, it brought individuals together on nights and weekends to learn from and with each other all the while developing relationships. Although not likely called social capital, this is what it was. We need to sustain this conceptualization of social capital in order to ensure meaningful and effective programs for adult learners.
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