Adult education has undergone a paradigm shift where much of the current learning activities are happening online. Debates abound regarding the efficacy of online and offline adult teaching programs but the consensus is that online learning is as effective, if not better than, conventional learning methods (Donavant, 2009). This paper is a site visit report of an online adult education program run by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Massachusetts. It is aimed at educating people on how they could prevent gender-based violence in the workplace and at home (YWCA Central Massachusetts, 2020). James Brown, the group’s coordinator oversees its operations. The site visit was conducted on 2 February 2022 and key sections of this paper provide details about its target audience, contents, course schedule, motivation, resources, and the evaluation criterion used.
Adult education programs attract different types of learners in the education system. Students’ characteristics often influence the design and implementation plans of such programs (Caffarella et al., 2013). The target audience for the above-mentioned YWCA gender-based violence prevention program was professional groups and organizations (YWCA Central Massachusetts, 2020). The program sought to educate them on how to prevent gender-based violence through training and situational awareness.
The YWCA is the sponsor for the above-mentioned outreach and prevention program. The organization’s vision is premised on the promotion of gender equality and the prevention of social injustices (YWCA Central Massachusetts, 2020). Its mission statement is anchored on the recognition of women-based leadership as the basis for global social, political, and economic transformation (YWCA Central Massachusetts, 2020). The headquarter is in Geneva, Switzerland, but its programs have a global outreach, including the US.
Primarily domiciled in Central Massachusetts, YWCA’s violence prevention program could be described as a social awareness campaign aimed at promoting good relations between men and women in the workplace and at home. The participants’ knowledge of this topic was tested using internally developed online surveys that explored their understanding of how to prevent gender-based violence. This evaluation framework is associated with the timely delivery of test results and improved accuracy in reporting (Donavant, 2009). Course contents were conveyed to the target audience in digital formats, including electronic brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and pamphlets. From an experiential perspective, participants learned about real-life stories of victims who have suffered gender-based violence, thereby creating grounds for developing empathetic relationships between participants and speakers.
Schedule and Length of Course
Given its informal nature, the YWCA program took a few hours, or days, to complete, depending on the type of audience involved. Educational materials were disseminated in 2-hour class sessions involving a tutor and a group of participants in a virtual setup. These sessions were expected to expand participants’ knowledge on issues surrounding gender-based violence and its effects on productivity (YWCA Central Massachusetts, 2020). The expectation was that the people who gained such knowledge would use it to prevent the occurrence of such vices in their communities and consequently act as ambassadors of peace.
The gender-based focus of the YWCA program influenced participants’ motivation to take part in the study. Students’ motivation was assessed based on their attendance record and frequency of class participation (YWCA Central Massachusetts, 2020). More female participants took part in the program compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, participants were equipped with knowledge regarding the complex relationships that underpinned violence at home and work. Some of the contents included legal advice to victims of domestic violence and possible interventions for minimizing the risk of violence.
The YWCA program offered its students a vast array of materials they could use as resources for learning. Books, movies, and podcasts are a few of such tools that were used to disseminate learning content from teachers to students. These resources have been widely reported as digital resources for adult learning (Caffarella et al., 2013). From a human resource standpoint, the program also recognized people as resources. Instructors were organized in teams, known as “Domestic Violence Service Teams,” which conducted online sessions to create awareness on gender-based violence.
A group of 50 professionals based in Massachusetts implemented the YWCA program. These professionals had a social welfare background and a minimum of 2- years of work experience working as community health advocates. Students had access to education materials, including books, software, and workbooks, which they used to enhance their learning experiences. However, given that the program had a gender-based focus on adult education, there was a low motivation among male participants to take part in it. Consequently, future programs should come up with new ways to encourage all participants to be interested in the topic.
Caffarella, R. S., Daffron, S. R., & Ronald M. C. (2013). Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide. Jossey-Bass.
Donavant, B. W. (2009). The new, modern practice of adult education: Online instruction in a continuing professional education setting. Adult Education Quarterly, 59(3), 227–245. Web.
YWCA Central Massachusetts. (2020). World YWCA. Web.