Adult Education and Training recognized as top online master’s program

2019 Best Colleges Badge - Best Online Master's, Adult Education Colorado State University, Fort CollinsThe School of Education’s Adult Education and Training master’s specialization was recently recognized as one of the best online master’s degrees in the nation by BestColleges.

BestColleges uses a ranking system based on statistical data and the analyzation of academic quality, affordability, and online competency to find a range of schools that fit an assortment of student needs. Ranked eleventh out of twenty-five schools, CSU boasts a mixture of rigorous academics and diverse learning.

“We’re an awesome program,” said Leann Kaiser, an assistant professor of adult education and training. “Our students get a lot out of it and speak highly of it. Students have somebody coming at a topic from a direction they’ve never thought of. So often, they are able to understand things in a much broader and better way. The diversity and discussion is huge in our program.”

From the basics to the best

The Adult Education and Training program focuses on teaching adults through project-based assignments. These assignments concentrate on adult learning theory, instructional design, methods of instruction, learning technologies, learning transfer, and program assessment. Classes can be taken online, on campus, or a mixture of both, allowing students to take the same courses from the same instructors – no matter where the student is located.

Kaiser explains the program in three parts.

“First, students focus on the theory and underlying foundation of how to teach adults,” she said. “The second thing they learn is the processes and methods for teaching adults. And the third piece is instructional design, which is taught by creating workshops and curriculum.”

AET students can use what they learn in the program for a diverse range of jobs. The program is rooted in building a strong foundation in the basics of adult learning, so students can understand the basics before focusing the information they have learned and applying it to their own specific contexts.

“Our students do everything!” said Kaiser. “We have some students who teach English to English language learners. We have some people who are workplace trainers. We have students who do outdoor programs with adults. Essentially, anything you can think of where adults are learning, our students are teaching.”

Top of the game

The School of Education began offering the AET master’s program online in the late nineties. Each AET faculty member has specific and continued knowledge on how to teach adults in varying contexts, and how to continue developing an inquisitive learning community through the use of technology and class discussion.

“It puts us on the spot sometimes, because we’re teaching students how to teach adults – which we’re doing ourselves,” said Kaiser. “It forces us to be on the top of our game all the time. Although we have an advantage: another faculty member and I have our major area of research in online learning. We’re in a cool position that other online programs are not in. Not only do we teach the topic, but we’ve become experts in it. We teach and research, which allows us to get the best practices down the line.”

Striving for excellence

Looking to the future, the AET faculty continues to strive for excellence, revising opportunities within and outside of courses. Currently, they are working to collaborate with existing doctorate programs in the School of Education, to provide opportunities for students who would like to pursue doctoral studies within adult education. Additionally, the faculty is working to update electives to better fit faculty expertise.

“There’s always something new and interesting,” said Kaiser. “We are constantly revisiting and revising our curriculum, our course offerings, and what’s happening in those courses to create a robust program.”

The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.