Educating and learning across the lifespan – Adult educators and older learners perspectives

The first joint conference of the ESREA two networks, Research Network for Adult Educators, Trainers and their Professionalisation (ReNAdET) and Network on Education and Learning of Older Adults (ELOA), was held in Tallinn at Tallinn University on 8–10 November 2024.

Educating and learning across the lifespan - group photo

The conference's main theme was "Educating and learning across the lifespan – adult educators and older learners perspectives. Theory, research, practice, and policy". This first joint conference aimed to explore, reflect, and discuss current issues and questions, perspectives, and possibilities related to the conference's main theme about research, policy, and professional practice. In line with the principles of networking, we invited the conference scholars, research fellows, Ph.D. and postdoc students, experts, and practitioners from the field of adult education and learning and training to discuss different topics of the main theme in an interactive and dialogical format. The conference started with welcoming words from Dr. Tiia Õun, Head of the School of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University; Renno Veinthal, Deputy Secretary General, Estonian Ministry of Education and Research; Dr. George Zarifis from ReNAdET network and Dr. Bernhard Schmidt-Hertha, from ELOA network and organisers Dr. Larissa Jõgi (ReNAdET), Dr. Tiina Tambaum (ELOA).


Lifelong learning is an opportunity for adult educators and all adults to continue learning throughout their lives. One of the main theme of the conference was learning across the lifecycle.  The focus of the conference was, among other topics, on older learners and the relationship between adult educators and adult learners, as well as on learner`s well-being and learning support.

During the sessions and creative work-shops the participant discussed how lifelong learning, learning and teaching are understood in research, adult education policy and teaching practice contexts. In addition, the questions of how the adult education and learning fields have been affected by the crises and what support adult educators and adult learners most need were discussed.


The conference brought together academics, researchers and doctoral students from 24 European universities and from 17 countries: Canada and Czechia, Cyprus and Greece, Germany and Hungary, Estonia and Italy, Israel and Lithuania, Norway and Portugal, Sweden and Finland, France, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.



During the three plenary sessions, eleven sessions with presentations, and four creative workshops, we had 25 presenters and three key speakers: Dr Elen Lotman, Cinematographer and director, President of the Estonian Society of Cinematographers, Ass. Professor of Baltic Film and Media School, Tallinn University; Dr. Halliki Põlda, Ass. Professor on Lifelong Learning, School of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University and Hany Hachem, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Twelve moderators moderated the sessions: Maria N. Gravani and Bernhard Schmidt-HerthaL; Larissa Jõgi and Tiina Tambaum; Andrea Annus and Ana Huembes; Małgosia Malec Rawinski and Jane Watts; Olga Lupanova and António Fragoso; Mareike Kholin and Balázs Németh.  

We had to experience a local organising team with 15 members and representatives from several partner organisations: Larissa Jõgi and Katrin Karu (School of Educational Sciences); Tiina Tambaum and Olga Lupanova (School of Governance, Law and Society); Sirli Tanilo and Sirli Peda, Lydia Kurus, Sten Väin and Helen Pärna (Conference center, Tallinn University); EPALE Estonia, Estonian Open Air Museum and The Self-Help and Advisory Association for Senior Citizens.

ConferenceFinally, thank you for the kind support colleagues from the scientific committee: Prof. Bernhard Schmidt-Hertha, ELOA; Prof. George Zarifis, ReNAdET; Graça Santos, ELOA; Maria N. Gravani, ReNAdET; Sofia Bergano ELOA and Susanne Lattke, ReNAdET.


We thank all 64 participants and 12 moderators for their impressive and inspiring talks, presentations, discussions, inputs, and facilitations! Thank you all for the inspiring, content-rich talks during the conference!

More photos from Maria Looming are here.