ALA webinar: Adults’ Lifelong Learning: the mediation of person + education + ‘community’

Presenter: Dr. Stephen Billett
When: Wednesday 11th November @ 1pm AEDT
Duration: 1 hr
Cost: Free for members | $50 non-members

About this session

As a means of advancing our understandings and practices as adult educators, this webinar explores how adults’ learning can be mediated by the interrelations amongst person + education + community.

Certainly, we need more complete and comprehensive understandings of this phenomenon. What constitutes and supports adults’ learning across their lives for economic, social and societal purposes is essential for individuals, their families, communities, workplaces and, collectively national sustainability and development. Despite having a far greater span and potential salience, accounts of adult learning and development, have attracted far less interest from society, government and science than those about children and young adults.

Whilst now changing, much of the current governmental interest and effort is directed towards viewing adult learning being mediated largely by education provisions: lifelong education. However, that provision is seen quite narrowly in terms of taught courses and subject to the intents of sponsors (e.g. government) and associated processes of enactment (e.g. mandated and administrative requirements). This leads to a restricted view of what constitutes lifelong education. Often excluded in such a view is the learning occurring within and through work practice, activities within community and the exercise of societal roles, such as parenthood or caring for parents.

However, within ‘schooled societies’ such as Australia, it is often difficult for contributions to learning experiences outside of educational provisions to be seen as legitimate, important and worthy of support and promotion. Yet, beyond the actions and mediation of the learner (i.e. person), those provided through educational provision (i.e. education), inevitably a third contribution is perennially and ubiquitously evident. That is, the contribution and mediation of factors that are suggested, projected and otherwise afforded. Sometimes these are referred to as cultural or social capital, yet this fails to accommodate the range of contributions mediated by circumstance, location and also ‘happen chance’.

Moreover, there are often relational bases for these suggestions being enacted and engaged with by the learner. Here, and tentatively, these mediating factors that sit beyond the person and the education provision are referred to as those from ‘community’. Hence, understanding what mediates adults’ learning and development can be understood through the relations amongst these three factors: Person + education +community. Drawing upon previous and current research projects, and related observations, the contributions and mediation of community that is proposed as a means to understand more fully how learning and development can progress productively across adult lives.


About our presenter

Dr Stephen Billett is Professor of Adult and Vocational Education at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. After a career in clothing manufacturing, he was a vocational educator, teacher educator, professional educator and held a policy role in Queensland. Since 1992, at Griffith, he has researched learning through and for work and published widely in fields of learning for occupations, vocational education, workplace learning, work, higher education and conceptual accounts of learning for occupational purposes. He has been Fulbright scholar (1999), National Teaching Fellow (2009-11), ARC Future Fellow (2011-16) recipient of honorary doctorates from Jyvaskala University, Finland (2013) and University of Geneva (2020), elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia (2015), research fellow at Oxford University (2019-22), and adjunct professor at University of Stavanger, Norway (2019-23) and University Vast, Sweden (2020). His current research projects are on: the standing of vocational education, integration of work experiences to promote university students’ employability, resilience in healthcare workers, worklife learning in an era of change, continuing education and training in Singapore and re-imaging rural general practice after CoVid19. He is the founding and editor in chief of the journal Vocations and Learning: Studies in Professional and vocational education, and the Professional and practice-based learning book series for Springer.


How to participate

ALA members: Access ALA webinars for FREE with an ALA membership.

Non members: $50.00 (or Join ALA for free access)

Not sure of your member status or your member log-in details? Contact us at for assistance.