Adult education in the Great Plains has a long and rich history. Unlike many other geographical regions of the United States, where learners and providers of adult education programs enjoy close proximity, the large landmass and relatively sparse population of the Great Plains have resulted in the development of many distinctive educational delivery systems.
Historically, the critical challenge for adult education providers in the Great Plains has been to develop a system of sound educational options and strategies that allow access to their resource base and at the same time overcome the fundamental barrier to participation that is posed by the substantial distances that exist between their location and potential adult students. The work of the Cooperative Extension Service with regard to community and leadership development, 4-H, the agricultural experiment station initiatives, and correspondence study, an early form of self-paced learning, are among the most notable examples of these efforts.
Presently, distance-based learning activities that are delivered via two-way interactive video or Web-based coursework to the increasingly large number of adults in the region who have access to the Internet are among the most significant ways in which adult education degrees as well as personal and professional development offerings are being provided to residents of the Great Plains. In addition, on-site, off-campus college and university courses and other types of mediated self-directed instructional activities associated with the outreach mission of the region's many land-grant universities as well as the applied research and development endeavors of the Cooperative Extension Service, which provides educational and research services to agriculturally related interests of the Great Plains, continue to be among the key means by which new knowledge is disseminated throughout the region.
See also AGRICULTURE: Agricultural Extension Service.
W. Franklin Spikes Kansas State University
Knowles, M. S. The Adult Education Movement in the U.S. Melbourne FL: Krieger, 1983.
Merriam, S. B., and P. M. Cunningham, eds. Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989.