As the population grows, also educational needs are increased with them. These need increases not only for the biggest amount of people, but also for the acknowledgement of education as a fundamental part of the development of human being.
It has been accepted and recognized that citizens of all countries, no matter their social and economic conditions, religion, race, age or language should access education. Also, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in its article 26 that “Everyone has the right to education…” Because of that, international organizations constantly work to improve the access and quality of education, by implementing programs and offering support to all countries around the world.
Extension courses are provided by educational institutes to those students who are not enrolled as regular students and they can receive classes and materials in different schedules, in off-campus and on-campus centers or through correspondence and technology systems.
One of the best ways found to improve the access to education has been the extension courses. The first method was by correspondence. However the most distant areas were not completely benefited with it because it was too slow or sometimes very difficult to access. In the 20th century new technologies arrived and radio, television, videos and internet became valid and efficient alternatives. Adults are the most benefited groups. Extensions courses allow them to combine their daily activities at home and work, with extension courses at partial time. Also, in some cases youth has taken advantage of them and some countries even allow supervised home-schooling systems for children.
Nowadays, because of the emergence of new technologies, new models of education are being used. Although extensions courses have been around for a long time, educators are still trying to figure out the best way to achieve their objectives. Effective learning includes the development of the students to apply their knowledge. In order to achieve that objective, different models are applied by different institutes. Universities or schools. There is not a rigid classification and the field is open to research and evaluate the results. Pedagogical knowledge evolves constantly and therefore educations models also evolve. There are several classifications, depending on the approach.
Changes in Extension
Some of the models are traditional like lectures, which are offered either on line, video, radio or on campus and off campus facilities. In the other hand, some new methods, such as collaboration, active learning and self paced courses are being implemented. Collaborative and active learning methods which allow students to participate actively in classes are easier when the platform is interactive such as internet. Several models that began to be implemented for extensions courses are also being implemented in regular courses with a lot of success. One of the most popular classifications is given by the Australian author Coutts J, in his paper about “Changes in Extension”, which mentions the following models:
- Facilitation/Empowerment: It is focused on participants trying to increase their capacity on their own. It may be done with research and the facilitator is only there to assist the groups to define their goals.
- Technological Development: In this model students work together to develop technologies, new practices in management or decision systems which. It may involve on-site visits and demonstrations.
- Programmed Learning: This model is to deliver especially designed training programs and workshops to specific groups in order to increase understanding or skills in delimited areas.
- Information Access: This model is designed to provide information that can be accessed from distance at a convenient time for each one of participants, either on a web-site or information centre.
- Consultant Model: It acknowledges and enhances the interaction between an educator who works with an individual or community to improve their technical, managerial or social individuals from different backgrounds, as well as working on a 1:1 basis.
As seen, models for extension courses may also vary according to the selected platform which offers the course, the interest of participants and the availability of educators.