The Quest for Community in Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

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Educational Gerontology


An open-ended online survey designed to explore issues related to learning communities was administered to directors of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Programs across the United States. Sixty-five directors responded to this survey. Findings included a description of a learning community, which is constituted by learners having common goals, a sense of ownership, sustained relationships, holistic engagement, and meaningful peer interactions. Any successful strategy to build community rests on the foundation of committed volunteers and a responsive host institution. In addition to these, directors nurture their learning communities through a variety of strategies that include special interest groups, educational travel, sponsoring socially-focused activities, and consistent communication. Implications for international lifelong learning programs and the future of learning communities in the face of increased online and other distance education modalities are explored.


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