Twitter shortcuts, lists and hashtags for adult educators

Twitter is a quick and convenient way of keeping up to date with developments in adult education but it can feel overwhelming and could be a relentless time-eater for anyone trying to keep up with every message. Experienced tweeters can seem to be glued to their timelines all day and every day but there are ways to avoid getting drawn into reading every tweet in the never-ending stream. We do actually get on with our work as well as tweeting about it!

Setting aside specific times for catching up can be useful in keeping control and there are some useful short cuts to prioritise what to read when time is tight.


Using lists such as the one shown below, which collates tweets about UK FE and adult education (available here), can highlight the most relevant messages about a particular theme. Instructions for making lists can be found here. It’s possible to read all of someone’s tweets via a list without following them directly and lists can be public or private.

Twitlist FE Adulted


Seasoned Twitter users know that using the ‘search’ option and hashtags is another good way to keep track of developments or to follow the progress of relevant events without wasting too much time. The ‘search’ bar is near the top right of a desktop, laptop or tablet screen as shown in red below. The magnifying glass symbol on a mobile phone’s Twitter app does the same job.


There’s a guide to using hashtags here.

Typing a hashtag such as #adultlearning in the search bar will provide a filtered list of relevant tweets from worldwide contributors. Using this approach broadens horizons and can give interesting international perspectives.

Many adult educators have been using the hashtag #adulted as quick way to filter and find relevant tweets including messages from people who they might not be following directly. The hashtag has been hijacked recently by people posting images of pneumatic female contortionists so there has been a migration to #adultedu. This hashtag is used predominantly by tweeters from the USA and UK. Europeans and some Brits seem to prefer #lifelonglearning. This avoids the spam-attracting word ‘adult’ but uses up more of Twitter’s 140 character limit leaving less space for other text.


It would be good to get some consistency. Which of the options do you prefer – #adultlearning, #adulted, #adultedu or #lifelonglearning or do you use another?

There are various lists of tweeters and bloggers, but is there a list of useful hashtags such as #ukfechat, #adultliteracy, #communitylearning, #familylearning, #loveFE and #lovetolearn?

Top Tweets and Live Tweets

Having searched for hashtags, it’s easy to miss the options of filtering the results by the available categories, noting that there is often a difference between ‘Top’ tweets and ‘Live’ tweets. ‘Top’ tweets are those that lots of people are interacting with and sharing via retweets, replies and wider conversations. ‘Live’ tweets are more comprehensive and recent but have not prompted as much online response at the time of the search.

Twitsearch2Choosing the ‘Accounts’ category linked to a hashtag can be a good way to find appropriate people to follow.

All this filtering and finding helps to pinpoint the most pertinent updates but sometimes it’s good to sample the whole Twitter stream. I follow some very interesting, opinionated and entertaining people who have all sorts of perspectives and there is a risk of using social media as an echo chamber if we only follow narrow interests or ideas.


@MHFEwhatsnew got in touch via Twitter with some more useful links after this blog was published.


How’s the Education and Training Foundation doing?

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has been going for a year now. Its remit includes the adult and community learning sector and its aims are:

  • To raise the quality and professionalism of teachers and trainers across the FE and training sector.
  • To deliver consistently excellent outcomes for learners and employers.
  • To support Colleges and training providers of all types in achieving their own improvement objectives.
  • To promote this vibrant sector to employers and national influencers, and raise awareness of its vital role in rebalancing the economy.

The ETF’s main website is here and they tweet via @E_T_Foundation.

The Foundation supports the Excellence Gateway, building on the legacy of work begun by LSIS, the former Learning and Skills Improvement Service. This, “provides online access to an unrivalled breadth of resources for everyone working in the wider learning and skills sector in England.” The Foundation is also now responsible for ‘stewardship’ of the former Institute for Learning’s legacy.

This video on professional standards is an example of their resources which also include support for leaders, managers and governance through the Excellence in Leadership, Management and Governance (ELMAG) programme.



There’s a self-assessed review of the ETF’s successes and achievements after its first year here.


In his introduction to the document, David Russell, the ETF’s CEO says, “Keep on talking to us, engaging with us, and spreading the word about what we’re doing. Remember – we’re owned by you. So please – use us.”

Do you know about the Foundation?

Have you used its resources, been to its events, contributed to its research or been involved in other ways?

What do you think of it?

Catching up on adult education news

Getting back into adult education networks after the summer? These links might help in catching up on some useful reading to get back in the groove again.


  • Brian Creese’s contribution to the Institute of Education’s blog, “Adult education: a fundamental good”, is an excellent read. Read it here.
  • Writing on the DEMOS blog, Neil Stevenson argues that ESOL policy needs a re-think. Read it here. The Independent has a commentary on the DEMOS report here.
  • Adult Learners’ Week award winner, Amy King, is becoming an active social media advocate for adult education, tweeting as @GlamChem. You can watch and be inspired by a short film about her here.
  • GCSEs, Class and Inequality are the themes of Paul Stanistreet’s blog here.
  • Research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills finds that, “Family learning is good for improving adult language and maths skills, but also has a wider impact.” Read BIS research paper 108 here.
  • A recent book by Frank Coffield, Cristina Costa, Walter Müller and John Webber introduces the term Bulimia Academia. You can find out more about the book, “Beyond Bulimic Learning – Improving teaching in further education” here.
  • Finally, in case you missed the WEA Manifesto or want to read it again, you can find the link here.

Any thoughts on issues covered in these links or suggestions of other news we might have missed?

List of UK FE and adult education tweeters

Like most busy people I don’t have time to read all the tweets in my timeline every day, but I find it very useful to have quick scrolls through lists and hashtag searches to pick up relevant snippets. There’s a handy list of people who tweet about FE and adult education here and the author has done a grand job in collating the list. It’s not obvious who has done all the work and I don’t want to blow anyone’s cover but I hope they’ll take a bow .

There was a little flurry of interest after I tweeted the link on Friday evening, with others adding more suggestions, so I’ve created a new twitter list here.

Inclusion isn’t an endorsement and the list isn’t comprehensive. Please let me know if I should add you or anyone else to the list and apologies to people who aren’t listed yet.

I found the FE Culture Blogspot link via #UKFEchat, an interesting drop-in twitter discussion held on Thursday evenings. You can find more information about #UKFEchat here or by searching for the hashtag on twitter. It took me a while to notice the ‘Top/ All / People you follow’ option, which gives different search results. Sarah Simons (@MrsSarahSimons) oversees the chats and gives people a warm welcome when they join in.


There’s also a list of tweeters from the WEA at:

This includes staff, tutors, volunteers, ambassadors and students, mostly tweeting in a personal capacity.

Finally, there’s a list of tweeters from NIACE at:

(For less experienced tweeters, just open any of the live twitter links shown in blue or purple above and click the ‘subscribe’ button as shown below to create direct access to an extra customised timeline featuring tweets from listed people.)


Knud Illeris and learning theorists… in their own words

Knud Illeris, the Danish educational theorist and professor of lifelong learning, has a reputation that earns him a place in the Educational Thinkers’ Hall of Fame. I found this link to a wonderful and completely free online publication on contemporary theories of learning, edited by the man himself, so this is more of a link than a blog.

Contemporary Theories of Learning – Learning Theorists… in their own words

Illeris’s most noted contributions as an educational thinker have been about how adults learn and continue to do so. He explains what he calls, ‘A comprehensive understanding of human learning’ in Chapter 1 of the book.

Knud Illeris

Knud Illeris

As well as Illeris, the ‘who’s who’ of modern theorists who have contributed articles about their own work includes Peter Jarvis, Robert Egan, Yrjo Engestrom, Benet Elkjaer, Jack Mezirow, Howard Gardner, Peter Alheit, John Heron, Mark Tennant, Jerome Bruner, Robert Usher, Thomas Ziehe, Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger, Danny Wildemeersch and Veerle Stroobants.

It’s good to find such a rich range of resources so freely available for those who are interested.

Any thoughts on their writing or links to other similar resources?

10 blogs about adult education

There are many excellent blogs about education. Most of those that I’ve come across focus on teaching, learning and leadership in schools and there’s a lot to learn from them, but it’s good to find some that focus specifically on adult education, including part-time adult and community learning.

You can find a list of sample blogs from WEA colleagues in the right hand side bar of this blog if you scroll down the page on full screen versions or at the end of the text on smartphone formats. Some of the blogs are more active than others and they represent different aspects of our work – from tutor and branch blogs to payroll support. Many are informal but ‘weaadulted‘ is Ruth Spellman’s official blog as our CEO.

Here are links to 10 other interesting blogs that are relevant to adult education. They’re listed in alphabetical order of their authors and are all UK-focused unless stated otherwise.

  1. The Learning Professor – John Field is an academic interested in lifelong learning.
  2. Education Post 2015 ICAE – The International Council for Adult Education.
  3. Stuffaliknows – Alison Iredale is a teacher educator working at Oldham College as Centre Manager for the PGCE / CertEd (Lifelong Learning).
  4. JISC Regional Support Centres – (formerly Joint Information Systems Committee) Supports the use of digital technologies in UK education and research.
  5. teachnorthern – Lou Mycroft is a teacher educator, working at The Northern College, Barnsley. This blog links to a ‘Community of Praxis’ and ‘Teachdifferent’.
  6. More, Different, Better – A multi-authored blog from NIACE, the National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education.
  7. Working in Adult Literacy – Kate Nonesuch has worked in adult literacy and numeracy for more than twenty-five years, most of that time at Vancouver Island University. (Canadian).
  8. Sam Shepherd’s Blog – Sam is an ESOL tutor and teacher trainer.
  9. The Learning Age – Paul Stanistreet is a journalist who edits Adults Learning, a quarterly magazine for people working in adult education.
  10. Union Learning Voices – The unionlearn blog.

I’ll write a future post listing more blogs about education that are relevant to adult educators but not written directly from, or for, the sector.

Apologies if I’ve missed your personal blog or your favourite adult education blog. Please let me know. I’d appreciate your comments, suggestions and additions.


The following blogs have also been recommended via comments on Twitter:

Carol Goody – Carol is an Adult Literacies & ESOL Worker in Community Learning and Development with a local authority in Scotland.

Improvisation Blog by Mark Johnson, suggested by Alison Iredale. by Dr Carol Azumah Dennis, a researcher, writer & teacher.

I’ll add more if people send me links.