A Conversation with Peter Smith about "Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age"

According to Allen Tough, adult learners spend an average of 15 hours per week, nearly 800 hours annually, participating in self-directed learning*. Motivations to begin such a learning journey vary but include knowledge and skill acquisition or self-improvement. This unassessed learning holds tremendous value for adults seeking credentials and acknowledgement of learning, and could serve as an untapped pool of students as institutions grapple with decreased enrollments.

In his newly released book, Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age, Peter Smith, long-time WCET friend and advisor, says that self-directed adult learners are fueling an education revolution. Institutions that effectively assess and credential prior learning are on the forefront of this revolution. This disruptive change is becoming scalable as technology supports learner assessment and allows students to inventory their “hidden credentials.”

Valuing the prior learning of adults is not just a convenient way to provide credit, it makes economic sense for the entire ecosystem; the adult learner, higher education institutions, and the workforce.

Cover of book image.

Join Peter Smith and WCET’s Megan Raymond for a conversation about the economics of Free-Range Learning where they will discuss:

  •     The financial benefits of prior learning assessment to the student, institution, and the workforce.
  •     The factors driving disruptive change for institutions.
  •     Moving from pro-academia to pro-learner and the democratization of learning.
  •     The value of skills and knowledge vs. a diploma, referred to as the Scarecrow’s Dilemma.
  •     How technology supports increased learning and access.

Whether you have read Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age or not, there will be plenty of time for audience Q&A. Atypical of WCET’s webcasts, this will be a conversation rather than a slide presentation. Thursday, June 28 at Noon MDT. The webcast conversation will be recorded and posted online.

June 28: 8:00 AM HAST / 10:00 AM AKDT / 11:00 AM PDT and MST / Noon MDT / 1:00 PM CDT / 2:00 PM EDT

Follow this link if you are interested in purchasing Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age.

*Allen Tough, The Adult’s Learning Projects (Toronto: The Ontario Institute fur Studies in Education, 1969).


Megan RaymondMegan Raymond
Assistant Director of Programs and Sponsorship,



Peter SmithPeter Smith
Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education,
University of Maryland University College