Adult Education And The Adult Educator Of The Future

 

Roger Hiemstra Professor of Adult Education, Syracuse University

 

A Presentation for the Golden Anniversary Conference on Graduate Study

October 17-18, 1986

The Ohio State University Columbus, OH

 

A version of this was displayed in the Proceedings for that conference [now out of print]

Twenty-first Century Challenges

David L. Boggs, Editor

 

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Introduction

 

(NOTE: The presentation began with a simulation of how a future adult educator might begin his or her day.)

 

This is the year 1996, the place is Syracuse, NY, in the university office of Dr. Roger Hiemstra, doctor of facilitation and the place could also be Rogerís office in his home, but today he is leading an on-campus seminar for doctoral students making their annual trek to campus to comply with the remaining elements of the antiquated residency requirement. Yesterday he taught a course on planning from his home via 3D, two-way interactive video. Roger is just entering the office to start the day and let's turn on the room size holographic monitor to peek in on Roger for awhile.

 

(NOTE: Roger then placed a call to the Syracuse University campus computer and demonstrated how electronic mail and an interactive search of library resources can be carried out.)

 

I see my task to talk about what the future might be like and that future is here right now for me to be able to do the sort of thing I just simulated. An interesting thing about this equipment is that you noted a modem I carry around with me and a phone just in case one is not available that fits the cradle modem, this 64K lap computer, and the little thermo printer which is very light weight. Thus, they are all portable and

 

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battery operated. One year ago I had a semester's leave and spent an amount of time in the National Archives. I was able to bring all of this equipment in. The National Archives has people doing this all the time. The only thing they would not let me do is to hook it up to an electrical outlet.

 

I do not have a disk drive for this but I do have a microcassette recorder and I save all my files on tape. With 64K I can type five to six hours then simply dump a file onto cassette tape and run off a hard copy with this printer, clean out my memory, and then go back and operate the rest of the day. All of this equipment even fits into one carrying case. I also have a rechargeable battery to operate the whole system. Although this sounds futuristic in some respects, it is not. I hope you will appreciate a little of this current reality to focus your attention on my remaining comments about the future.

 

The Kellogg Project

 

You are the very first group to which I am pleased to make an announcement about a futuristic project we have received funding for at Syracuse University. We are the latest recipient in a number of grants the Kellogg Foundation has been making in the field of adult education. We have received 3.7 million dollars over the next four years. We received an additional million and a half dollars from my university and we are going to raise another 2.2 million dollars over the next few years through our University's capital campaign to provide a continuation for this project after the initial four years. So it is quite an investment.

 

Let me say a little about optical scanning, the technological heart of this project. There are three techniques in the optical scanning game. One is video disk--this one we will not be utilizing. It has a lot of

 

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potential for the future in terms of getting motion transcribed electronically. The second one you may be more familiar with is the Kurzweil optical scanner. It is digital based scanning. This form uses a laser light that scans a sheet of paper lying on a glass plate; the laser light moves across the lines, converts the information into a digital code, and stores it on some medium. The ERIC system is converting all of this material into CD ROMs (Compact discs read only memory) using similar technology. The machine we have on campus converts the material to a floppy disk: we then take the floppy disk information and transfer it to the mainframe in terms of data files. The third technique is known as Optical Image Scanning; this technology involves placing information on larger disks with the same kind of principle only the scanning is much more sophisticated in that exact images of what is on a page are stored. I will talk about this in greater detail later.

 

We will use this latter technology primarily and will purchase a scanner with at least three work stations. You scan the material [archival material related to adult education] and put it into a temporary storage format. Then someone trained with an archival or information transfer background looks at it with a high resolution monitor. Then they can do coding, correcting, or adding to depending on the procedures and policies we establish. We plan to start the scanning in January or February. Right now we are in the process of determining our policy and procedures on how we are going to identify material for later retrieval. From the coding stage it is transferred to optical disk storage. Once it is in the optical disk storage, the larger disk, it goes into either an on-line disk drive or a "Juke box." It gets its name because it operates like a juke box in that a series of optical disks are lined up in the box or machine (up to forty optical disks). Each disk eventually will be able to hold more than 100,000 pages. So we can have

 

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more than four million pages in this juke box. Then when we want to retrieve the information, a mechanical or robotic arm picks up a disk and puts it on 1ine in less than 20 seconds. On-line drives take up more room, but the retrieval time is much quicker, less than two seconds.

 

We have the equivalent of three football field lengths worth of materia1 (about 950 linear feet). Whether or not all of this will get in the system depends upon the right people analyzing all the material to determine its value to the field because no one has done that. We think there is some duplication, although we have so much room that we can afford to be sloppier about this than with some other type of technology. It is much easier to scan it, look at it later on, and then find out if you don't want it rather than make all the decisions ahead of time.

 

With optical scanning each image is actually broken down into 200-400 dots per square inch. That is the density you can get with this technology. A newspaper, for example, is around 120 dots per square inch. So optical scanning produces true image-based storage. That is the most interesting part of this technology, especially for an historian who is interested in original documents; you can almost have the original document in a reproduced copy or on the screen--handwriting, figures, photographs--with that kind of resolution you can do so much with it.

 

Here are some of the advantages of this technology. An image or picture can be stored so that original documents with handwriting in the margin which might be the most important thing now becomes very possible. In four to five years we are hoping that technology will allow scholars anywhere to access such data through an electronic network and, if you, as a scholar have a high-resolution monitor or printer, it is as if you had the original piece in front of you. No one knows how long its storage life is, but we do know there is very little wear on these disks with

 

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frequent use, plus we will make back-up copies. Insurance companies and banks have been using optical disks fairly extensively for record keeping purposes. The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress have begun to experiment with this in terms of information retrieval. We believe we are the first university to utilize this technology in the way I am going to be describing to you.

 

Another advantage is the fact that there is no limitation to the number of retrieval codes that can be used. Either a scholar doing the initial assessment can write in these codes or you as the researcher looking at the piece can write your own codes and build up your own data base and coding system. Of course the thing our library is excited about is that it goes a long way to eliminate archival storage problems. Right now about one-third of our material is housed in the main library. About two-thirds is housed in another storage building because of lack of space. If you want something in the storage location you might have to wait up to two days before it is available in the main library.

 

As I said, earlier, another advantage is that millions of pages can be searched for retrieval purposes in a very short period of time. The most intriguing thing for me is that the work stations have split screen and interactive capability built into an examination of such information. You can use the CRT to look at this material and split it into several windows; thus, you can put on the screen a document that has writing on both sides and look at it all at the same time. It is also interactive in that you can take any one of these windows and work with them in terms of word processing. The only limit being the software you have to do this. The disks can be delivered and used anywhere. This is one of the things we also are going to be studying: how to make the material most accessible to people away from Syracuse. Some of the access will be done

 

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electronically as noted above, and some information will be made available like ERIC has done within CD ROMs. We also will be able to interface this optical scanning technology with our mainframe computer. This will allow for sophisticated data analysis with other types of software.

 

A major focus of the project is to have a two-track research effort taking place. We are searching now for two new professors. One professor will focus on historical research for adult education and the other one will focus research in the area of adult education resources and technology. We believe having these two people on our adult education staff will allow us to promote lots of new research. My own view is that both of those areas are badly in need of research for the sake of our field. That is why we picked out these two particular areas; however, they seem to go hand-in-hand with what we are trying to do with this project. We hope to do our job well over the next few years so that you will see some brand new research emphases being stimulated.

 

Now to our project objectives. There are three major components. I've covered one component, the dissemination of resources in terms of historical and technological research. We also have a fair amount of money in the budget for new acquisitions, to bolster both areas. We know that once we get into an analysis of what we have we are going to find some gaps, so we will make an acquisition effort over the next four years to find materials and fill in such gaps. We have fairly complete collect ions for severa1 organizations that are no longer in existence--AAAE, CSLEA, AEA, etc. We also have begun to receive papers from leaders in the field or the promise that we will have these materials, including such people as Malcolm Knowles and Cyril Houle. We think that once we start to receive these materials it will help to fill in the gaps. The other activity related to this component that may be

 

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interesting to many of you is our visiting scholars program. We are going to be awarding postdoctoral awards, some doctoral dissertation awards on a competition basis, and some short term grants for those who have a period of time and they want to come to Syracuse University and study. ††

 

Another component has to do with an interactive research capability. We are going to have a series of on-campus user stations. At least three that we know of now where people coming on campus can have access to the optically stored material. Another thing we are going to do which has much potential is to develop some sophisticated interactive software. We have a group of scholars on campus who are specialists in the fifth generation of computers notion. For example, one of the developers of LOGLISP was J. R. Robinson at Syracuse University. Two of his colleagues, E. Sibert and A. Shelly, utilized LOGLISP, a symbolic interaction software programming language and developed a brand new qualitative analysis tool called QUALOG. QUALOG allows for the use of the mainframe computer to do data analysis on extensive amounts of qualitative data. Using that same kind of technology, Sibert and Shelly for the next three years will help us develop new software to analyze large amounts of data. This, in essence, will be a document analysis program. So if you can visualize 950 linear feet of material to be scanned and put into our system, a researcher coming in and using our interactive software, at least theoretically, will be able to examin the entire collection and, for example, look for every instance in which the term "adult literacy" was. Now that term may be so broad that it would have to be refined. But, the researcher will be able to look through all of the optical disks very, very quickly. When you begin to think about what that does for information retrieval, it boggles the mind. Especially when you think

 

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that several linear square feet of material on an optical disk can be carried in my hands easily.

 

Another aspect of this second component that I am most excited about for us, is the development of a network for adult educators--AEDNET, an Adult Education Electronic Network. We have already hired the computer specia1ist who is going to be putting that into place. We will be announcing information about it over the next few months. About a year from now we hope to have AEDNET up and running so that any adult educator in North America and eventually beyond can utilize it. We don't have the whole thing designed yet and don't know what the costs are going to be, but we will try to keep the user rates low. AEDNET will be for adult educators to use if they want to do so as a gateway for networking, for electronic mail, for electronic conferencing and even for electronic publishing. Right now we can go through our mainframe computer directly into our printing service where they typeset material and print it out. We hope that service will be available. The last use of AEDNET, and perhaps the most important one, is to have electronic access to the optically scanned materials. We don't know if all of the objectives will be achieved exactly as we have originally planned, and we don't know how long it's going to take us, but our best guess is that within four years we are going to have most of the electronic system in place. Thus, someone at The Ohio State University can go through the network to Syracuse University and get hold of these materials or use us as a gateway to go elsewhere. We hope this can be possible anywhere in the world.

 

Another thing we believe is possible through existing networks, and we hope to make this available through AEDNET, is written text exchange. So if you have written a report that you want to share with colleagues in California, you send it to them. Of if you are co-authoring a chapter or

 

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article with someone in another location, you exchange these materials.

 

We also are going to develop a quarterly newsletter. We will start out disseminating it through the U. S. postal service but eventually it will be disseminated through AEDNET. We know this is possible. I am editor of the Adult Education Quarterly and already we are receiving some of our reviews electronically. It is cutting down the review process by 2-3 weeks. We hope next year to be able to receive articles electronically and put them into the scanning network so we can do our own editing on-line rather than doing our editing by pencil. These are some of the futuristic dreams that are possible. We believe they are going to happen and Kellogg believes they are going to happen.

 

Our third component has to do with a series of educational activities. For example, we are going to have one international conference and two symposia over the next four years; some of you may want to attend. We are going to be developing an independent study master's degree program that combines adult education and information technology into one degree. We also will be developing training and orientation programs related to the other two components.

 

What about a future beyond the four years. One feature I am most intrigued about is portable downloading capability for Third World users. We are not that far away from having the ability to go to a Third World country and at a relatively reasonable cost, less than two thousand dollars, install a read station, a small satellite dish, a television monitor, and a key board, all operated by batteries. Think about the infrastructure problems in many countries today--poor roads, undependable telephones, etc. We think we can leap across such limitations with this technology. That's very exciting to me.

 

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Another future that is very intriguing to me is a language translation board. Now this blows your mind. Right now we are working only with English language material. In a few short years language translation problems will be a moot issue because you can take English material, send it out electronically, download it through a translator card, and read it in whatever language you speak. The reverse of that is true, too.

 

Another future innovation is the development of an expert system that would manage all of our activities automatically. Now there are obviously inherent dangers with that. Taking the people out of a system creates new policy issues, but we think it's going to be possible to automate a lot of our activities with expert systems that in fact learn as they are going.

 

The other thing I think we are going to do after the four years is to begin to organize or look for new archival stuff in specialized ways. For example, literacy, special education for adults, and gerontology are some of the areas of specialization we could develop.

 

Future Roles for Adult Educators

 

These are some of the new roles I see emerging for adult educators. One is an information counseling role in terms of helping others utilize information. For example, the project is going to make so much information available to people and it is going to be so much easier to access such information that there will be a real need to counsel and work with people on how to make the best use of such knowledge. Another role is simply facilitating the use of such electronic material. I am talking about an overload or future shock of information, including information that will change quickly, and adult educators will have to help learners change behaviors just to keep up. I think we are going to have a lot more

 

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individual learning because of this technology and someone is going to have to help people adapt to that.

 

Another future role has to do with the development of new administrative techniques in adult education. One of the things we are going to attempt to do in our project, for example, is to model the very best in the use of computers to run our project. So we are going to build some expert systems into our project that will allow us to demonstrate to others how we are doing it. We also are creating an electronic local area network to assist in our administration and our communication. A local area network is an internal network so that all of our people will be connected electronically. The printers, computers, the disk drives, also are all connected. Thus, it becomes relatively easy to communicate with each other either in or out of the building.

 

I want to say a little about the future of graduate study in adult education. At Syracuse University we are enrolling increasingly younger graduate students including some that come straight out of undergraduate programs. This will no doubt happen throughout the country. The growth in adult education also is likely to continue. At Syracuse University in six years we have gone from 25 students to 125 students in adult education; we have programs in three different campus locations. We have gone from one full-time person to four full-time people and should be at seven full-time faculty by September, 1987. We also have experienced an increase in women and minority students. We set up one program in Buffalo, New York, and 80% of our students were minorities and women. We have weekend programs at three different sites and they have been very successful for us. When you talk about this from a marketing viewpoint, the marketing of graduate weekend and other non-traditional formats are likely future success areas. You must be able to find faculty who are

 

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willing to teach on weekends, but there are students there. We started a new program this year in a relatively small community (Watertown, New York). Our university extension people said don't go there with a program as you are not going to get any students. However, we had done our own marketing research and had 25 people enrolled right away.

 

This independent study program we are going to develop is another form of graduate study, but using self-directed learning formats. We actually use self-directed learning extensively in our graduate program. We also are seeing at Syracuse University a relaxation of some of the formal requirements. For example, we have finally relaxed our more formal residency programs for our EdD students. This hasn't happened yet for our PhD students, but that will come next. We were able to convince faculty outside of Adult Education that our part-time adult students can develop for themselves a very viable residency program through self-directed, contracting techniques.

 

One of the things we are working on with our students is to increase their professional writing skills. We have instituted a professional writing course. We ask many students to go through a writing center in our building and also encourage students to get published before they finish their graduate program.

 

We also are working to increase the research skills of students. This is one we have had to fight all the way. Many of our EdD students did not want additional research courses and we convinced them that today, regardless of the degree, advanced research skill is needed. So we have increased the general requirement by one course and encourage additional skill building in terms of using computers. We also encourage all our doctoral students to get a PC the moment they get into our program. We believe they have to be computer literate today. We also try to help our

 

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students become very familiar with the mainframe and the programs that are available there.

 

Thank you for letting me talk and dream about the future. Actually, much of what I described is the very near future and we must keep up with such change if we are going to be viable adult education professionals.††

 

 

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