Continuing Education: Market Driven or Learner Centered Myths and Realities.Report as inadecuate

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At the heart of the controversy over market-driven continuing education programs is the issue of whether they are necessarily antithetical to the principles and philosophy of adult learning. Opponents identify the following problems of market-driven programs: they perpetuate inequality by neglecting needs of those less able to pay; they may meet individual needs efficiently but not overarching social needs; and they often displace educational benefit with profit as an overriding goal. Continuing educators are confronted with such ethical issues as retaining students to keep classes full and educator or institutional values clashing with those of clients. Market-driven programs are supported by the argument that providers must be flexible and responsive to consumer needs in the changing work environment. The controversy boils down to three issues: who the market is, whether the mission of higher education will change in the face of changes in its environment, and how continuing education is viewed within the institution. Some educators have attempted to reframe and resolve the issues by advocating the societal marketing concept that focuses on the needs and wants of individuals and society or by suggesting that the inherent inequality of market-driven systems could be addressed by public subsidy. A market orientation is necessary for institutions to respond to changes in their environment but it should be tempered with the social conscience that balances the profit motive with an ethical, responsible approach. (Contains 16 references.) (YLB)

Descriptors: Continuing Education, Educational Environment, Educational Needs, Educational Trends, Ethics, Free Enterprise System, Futures (of Society), Higher Education, Individual Needs, Marketing, Needs Assessment, Social Problems

Author: Kerka, Sandra


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