The Role of Adult Educators in the Age of Social Media

  • Rita Kop
  • Paul Bouchard
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan’s Digital Education and Learning book series (DEAL)


In a world where the authority of knowledge is challenged by self-generated networks of fluid meaning, learners and educators alike should familiarize themselves with the intricacies of epistemology and power distribution that are implied in the notion of learner control. The idea that limitless information and cost-free connectivity provides accessible opportunities for learning does not take into account the required agency of the learner. In particular, adult educators have questioned the commodification of knowledge and simultaneous relativization of meaning in many-to-many communication, while pointing to necessary shifts in epistemic beliefs and in the importance of self-direction in learning. In this context, adult educators must examine the social, political, and psychological dimensions of the new learning environments and re-define their role as facilitators of learning.


Social Medium Adult Educator Learner Control Epistemic Belief Digital Native 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bacsich, P., & Bristow, S. (2004). The e-university compendium: Volume one. New York: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  2. Barabási, A. L. (2003). Linked: How everything is connected to everything else and what it means. New York, London, and Toronto: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  3. Baxter-Magolda, M. B. (1992). Knowing and reasoning in college: Gender-related patterns in students” intellectual development. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  4. Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). The “digital natives” debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boghossian, P. (2007). Fear of knowledge: Against relativism and constructivism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bouchard, P. (2009). Some factors to consider when designing semi-autonomous learning environments. Electronic Journal of e-learning, 7(2), 93–100. Retrieved November 24, 2009, from Scholar
  7. Boyd, D. (2008). None of this is real. In J. Karaganis (Ed.), Structures of participation in digital cultures (pp. 132–157). New York: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
  8. British Library & JISC (2008). Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from Scholar
  9. Candy, P. (1991). Self direction in learning: A comprehensive guide to theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  10. Carroll, F., Kop, R., & Woodward, C. (2008). Sowingthe seeds of learner autonomy: Transforming the VLE into a third place through the use of web 2.0 tools. In ECEL-European Conference on e-Learning, University of Cyprus, Cyprus, November 6–7, 2008, 152–160.Google Scholar
  11. Delanty, G. (2001). Challenging knowledge: The university in the knowledge society. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Downes, S. (2009a). New tools for personal learning. Presentation delivered at the MEFANET 2009 Conference, Brno, Czech Republic. Retrieved November 26, 2009, from Scholar
  13. Downes, S. (2009b). Speaking in lolcats: What literacy means in the digital era. Seminar for Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  14. Dron, J. (2002). Achieving self-organisation in network-based learning environment. Unpublished PhD thesis. Brighton, UK: University of Brighton.Google Scholar
  15. Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2007). Collectives, networks and groups in social software for e-learning. Paper presented at the World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education (ELEARN), Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Peregrine Press: London.Google Scholar
  17. Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1999). Pedagogy, culture, language and race: A dialogue. In J. Leach & B. Moon (Eds.), Learners and pedagogy (pp. 46–58). London: PCP in association with the Open University.Google Scholar
  18. Glaser, M. (2004). Scholars discover weblogs pass test as mode of communication. Online Journalism Review, USC Annanberg, May 11, 2004. Retrieved February 23, 2009, from Scholar
  19. Goodfellow, R., & Lea, M. (2007). Challenging e-learning in the university: A literacies perspective. Maidenhead: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Greenfield, S. (2006). Education: Science and Technology, Speech in The UK House of Lords, Vol. 2006. Retrieved May 21, 2007, from Scholar
  21. Huffington, A. (2006). Now the little guy is the true pit bull of journalism. The Guardian. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from,,1730326,00.htmlGoogle Scholar
  22. Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling society. London: Marion Boyars.Google Scholar
  23. Illich, I. (1992). In the mirror of the past. New York, London: Marion Boyars Publishers.Google Scholar
  24. Jenkins, H. (2007). From YouTube to YouNiversity, The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from Scholar
  25. Knowles, M. (1972). Self-directed learning: A guide for learners and teachers. New York: Association Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kop, R. (2010). Networked connectivity and adult learning: Social media, the knowledgeable other and distance education. Unpublished PhD thesis. Swansea, UK: Swansea University.Google Scholar
  27. Lanham, R. A. (2007). The economics of attention: Style and substance in the age of information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Livingstone, D. (2009). Education er jobs: Exploring the gaps. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  29. Long, H. B. (1993). Emerging perspectives of self directed learning. Research Center for Professional and Continuing Education: University of Oklahoma.Google Scholar
  30. Lyotard, J. (1984). The postmodern condition: A Report on Knowledge. Manchester: University of Manchester Press.Google Scholar
  31. Martin, I. (2006). In whose interests? Interrogating the metamorphosis of adult education. In A. Antikainen et al. (Eds.), From the margins: Adult education, work and civil society (pp. 11–26). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Matheson, D. (2004). Weblogs and the epistemology of the news: Some trends in online journalism. New Media and Society, 6(4), 443–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mejias, U. (2008, April 17). Networks and the politics of the paranodal. Paper presented at Politics: Web 2.0: An International Conference, New Political Communication Unit, Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London. London, UK.Google Scholar
  34. Mortenson, T, & Walker, J. (2002). Blogging thoughts: Personal publication as an online research tool. Intermedia, 11, 249–279.Google Scholar
  35. Norris, P. (2001). Digital divide: Civic engagement, information poverty, and the internet worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. North, M. (2006). Political debate is thriving as academics blog on. Times Higher Education Supplement, September 22, 2006.Google Scholar
  37. Partnership for 21st Century skills (2009). The MILE Guide: Milestones for improving Learning & Education, Tucson, USA. Retrieved November 11, 2009, from
  38. Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years. New York: Holt, Reinhart, & Winston.Google Scholar
  39. Readings, W. (1996). The university in ruins. Cambridge, MA & London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Sandbothe, M. (2000). Media philosophy and media education in the age of the internet. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 34(1), 53–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Selwyn, N. (2006). Dealing with digital inequality: Rethinking young people, technology and social inclusion. Keynote presentation at Cyberworld Unlimited Conference: Digital Inequality and New Spaces of Informal Education for Young People, February 19, Bielefeld, Germany.Google Scholar
  42. Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  43. Siemens, G. (2006). Connectivism: Learning theory or pastime of the self-amused? Elearnspace blog. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from Scholar
  44. Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Paper presented at Encontro Sobre Web 2.0. Braga, Portugal, October 10, 2008.Google Scholar
  45. Thomas, A. M. (1998). The tolerable contradictions of prior learning assessment. In S. Scott, B. Spencer, & A. M. Thomas (Eds.), Learning for life: Canadian readings in adult education. Thompson Educational Publishing: Toronto.Google Scholar
  46. Walters, P., & Kop, R. (2009). Heidegger, digital technology and post-modern education: From Being-in-cyberspace to meeting on MySpace. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. 29(4), 278–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Walton, A., Weiler, M.,&Conole, G. (2008). Social: Learn—Widening Participation and Sustainability of Higher Education. Proc. EDEN 2008: Annual Conference of the European Distance and E-Learning Network. June 11–14, 2008, Lisbon, Portugal.Google Scholar
  48. Weller, M. (2009). The pedagogy of abundance. Invited speaker Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 09 course, University of Manitoba and National Research council Cananda. Retrieved November 16, 2009, from Scholar
  49. Weller, M. (2010). The centralisation dilemma in educational IT. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments, 1(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wheelahan, L. (2007). “What are the implications of an uncertain future for pedagogy, curriculum and qualifications?” In M. Osborne et al. (Eds.), The pedagogy of lifelong learning: Understanding effective teaching and learning in diverse contexts (pp. 143–154). London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Thomas 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita Kop
  • Paul Bouchard

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations