Adult Education & Online Hate

This project aims to enhance Canadians’ abilities to respond to and engage with contentious socio-political issues impacting their communities. It leverages the power of connections between prominent adult education models and different social media platforms in order to foster informal learning spaces in which critical conversations about social structures and justice or injustice may be pursued.


Introduction Video

This is the first in a series of videos detailing strategies for using technology in community meetings, town hall discussions, and public forums to prevent hateful speech when addressing contentious social issues using principles of adult learning. Join Alex on her journey to have her community talk about what they can do when hate speech appears in their community.

Virtual Theatre of the Oppressed

In the second video, we see Alex and her friends start to brainstorm about what they can do. One of the results is that they can incorporate Theater of the Oppressed activities in social media…

For more information including guiding questions see the supporting_documents (PDF).

Virtual Appreciative Inquiry Asset

Using forums for community participation, the friends start to address the hate speech by using asset mapping and appreciative inquiry.

For more information including guiding questions see the supporting_documents (PDF).

Virtual Town Hall Meeting

The community has been discussing how they can discuss hate speech online, but now, they will use digital tools for consensus based decision making in person.

For more information including guiding questions see the supporting_documents (PDF).


Robert G. McGray PhD

Robert G. McGray is an Associate Professor at Brock University. His focus is Adult Education and is an Associate Editor with The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education.

Tieja Thomas PhD

Tieja Thomas is a researcher and educator who studies issues at the intersections of citizenship education, educational technology, and social change. Specifically, she thinks, teaches, and writes about the social risks and opportunities associated with advances in new communication technologies and their effect on citizens’ wellbeing.


Adult education and the challenge of online hate

Thomas, T., & McGray, R. (2015). Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE), Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada.  


This paper attempts to trace possible connections between adult education and strategies for addressing instances of hate – specifically as they happen in online and social media contexts. While there is a gap in the literature addressing the connection, recent high profile cases of online hate raise the question: how can pedagogical approaches address the phenomenon? In this paper, we examine the ways in which community and adult educators can use social media to promote healthy communication and to foster powerful learning spaces when addressing contentious social issues in community settings. Basing our work on influential models of adult learning program design, we explore strategies for using technology in, and with, community meetings, town-hall discussions, and public forums. 

Thomas_McGray_2015_The challenge of online hate