Education and Learning of Older Adults

Aims and themes of the network

Central aim of the network “Education and Learning of Older Adults” (ELOA) is to bring together research activities in this field on a European scale and to establish a regular interchange of research annual periodical network conferences the European collaboration in this field of educational research should be strengthened and common research projects and publications should be initiated.
The aim of the proposed network is fourfold:

  1. to bring forward the experience from all around Europe on issues pertaining to all kind of learning activities inside and outside formal or non-formal education and the impact of this learning processes on their living conditions;
  2. to report on current European projects and stimulate research in this area;
  3. to generate new research projects on an European level and to inform policymakers about the meaning of learning in every age;
  4. to foster a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary dialogue for a broad understanding of the issues addressed.

There is a large variety of issues to be addressed and researched. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive: participation of older adults in adult education; educational interests and learning preferences in later life; the impact of demographic consequences in working life on lifelong learning and competence development; older workers integration in further educational training; meaning of work places and working conditions for learning processes of older workers; learning abilities and cognitive development of older adults; intergenerational learning in adult education; motivation of older adults to participate in adult education; didactical design of educational programs for older adults; differences concerning educational interests and behaviour within the older adults; influence of gender, socioeconomic conditions and lifestyle on learning interests and educational behaviour of older adults; influence of educational experiences for further learning and continuing education; informal learning in later life; meaning of different perceptions of age and life concepts for the learning of older adults; conditions for learning in older age in European countries.

History of the network

The ELOA network was founded in 2009 by Bernhard Schmidt-Hertha (Munich), Tarja Tikkanen (Oslo), and Leif Emil Hansen (Roskilde) under the roof of ESREA. It organizes annual conferences since 2010. Members of the network come from all over Europe (e.g. UK, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta) but also from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Network conferences took or will take place in Munich (2010), Braga (2011), Ljubljana (2012), Vilnius (2013), Malta (2014), Jonköping (2015), Wroclaw (2016), Leeds (2017), Faro (2018).
In 2017 the network was invited to a study tour to Australia and New Zealand, which was organized by colleagues from Ballarat, Melbourne, and Waikato. 15 colleagues from Europe joined the 8-days-program including three one-day-conferences. In 2019 the network plans to organize a similar study tour in Europe for colleagues from other parts of the world.


Bernhard Schmidt-Hertha  University of Tübingen

Tarja Tikkanen  University of Stavanger


ESREA series
Schmidt-Hertha, B., Jelenc Krasovec, S., Formosa, M. (Eds.) (2014). Learning Across Generations. Contemporary Issues in Older Adult Education. Rotterdam: Sense.

Journal’s special issues guest edited by the Network
Boström, A.-K. & Schmidt-Hertha, B. (2017). Special Issue on Intergenerational Relationships and Lifelong Learning. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 15(1).

Golding, B., Findsen, B., Jelenc Krašovec, S., & Schmidt-Hertha, B. (2017). Special Issue on ‘Getting of Wisdom’ – Learning in Later Life. Australian Journal of Adult Learning – AJAL 57(3).

Conference proceedings
Jelenc Krašovec, S., & Radovan, M. (Eds.) (2012). Intergenerational Solidarity and Older Adults’ Education in Community. Conference Proceedings. Ljubljana.

Žemaitaityte, I. & Mikulioniene. S. (Eds.) (2013). Learning opportunities for older adults: Forms, providers, policies (pp. 89-103).