“At the heart of effective technology integration, technology offers opportunities to be more actively involved in the learning experience.”

–    Vanessa Vega (Edutopia Research Analyst)

Technology has marked its presence everywhere from entertainment to education. Students have changed as a result of their exposure to technology. Today, classrooms are no longer limited to face-to-face communication. Day by day they are becoming more advanced and diverse to include MOOCs, hybrid classes, technology enhanced classrooms, combined ITV classes, personalized learning and online classrooms.

Over the past few years, online classrooms are not only gaining popularity among teenagers, but also the working generation or the adults are showing great interest in learning without struggling with their busy schedule. Learners can easily balance their personal as well as professional life without affecting their education.

Before going further into details on whether it is the best option for adult learners or not, don’t you want to know why e-learning is important in education and when this trend was started. Let’s go then!

E-LEARNING: A BRIEF REVIEW

“The technology is helping time to change. E-learning is helping students to move from being the consumers to being the producers of the learning product.” –    Toby Thompson

The first trace of distance learning was marked long before the invention of the internet when in 1840’s Issac Pitman taught his learners shorthand through correspondence. It was then, in 1954, a Harvard Professor invented the teaching machine which facilitated schools to control programmed instruction to their students. However, the first computer based learning program was introduced in 1960, known as PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations).

In the late 20th century, e-learning becomes a trend and started to dominate the education sector just after the introduction of the computer and internet. The invention of computers makes it easier for individuals to develop certain skill sets and learn about particular subjects at their home. Then, the following decade turns out to be the golden years for e-learning. The online learning environments began to truly thrive, with everyone gaining access to a wealth of online knowledge and e-learning opportunities.

The e-learning domain has advanced over several iterations. With the popularization of the web in the 21st century, the possibilities in e-learning have grown exponentially. At first, the trend was started by sharing video clips by instructors to demonstrate the task to students and now, in some courses, it has even replaced the role of instructors.

Today, more and more institutions are adopting e-leaning platforms. Learners could track their progress and improve on past scores by their own.  So where is all of this going? Is it only for new learners or it can be a good option of adults too? Is it possible to learn while working in office or helping family at home? Every new trend comes up with many questions and we are here to provide you the best suitable answer.

Firstly, you need to know the requirements of most of the adult learners and then we will tell you how e-learning is the only option to fulfill their requirements?

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF ADULT LEARNERS

One of the biggest challenges in online courses is to keep learners motivated throughout the learning course. However, the age variations in learners sometimes become an obstacle between the institutional designers and students. When it comes to education, adults are not over sized children. The maturity level and the journey from childhood to adulthood bring unique characteristics that affect their learning and the how they are motivated to learn.

Adults learning objectives and goals are different when compared to children, and it has been seen that in last few decades, the enrollment of adult learners in any online course is much higher than children. To fulfill their course expectations, on should focus on their requirements and their lifestyle. While designing the online courses for adult learners, one should keep their unique characteristics to make the learning more effective and beneficial for them.

Here is the list of some universal characteristics common to many adult learners.

Wealth of Knowledge

Adult learners are not the new learners. In the journey of life, they might have failed to attend a college due to some reasons, but they have accumulated a unique store of information, knowledge and experiences.

Adults do not want to start everything from the beginning. They choose a course to improve their performance at their workplace and so that they can easily meet the changing demands of work. They need a course where they can bring their depth and breadth of knowledge to the learning environment.

Learning by Doing

Adults are very moody and they do not easily give someone authority to instruct them. They do not like learning where they have no control over course navigation. Instead of being passive recipients of knowledge, adults are like to be the active learners. They prefer to learn by doing rather than just listening to the instructor.

Adults like to look at the subject matter through real life examples and address problems through interactive exercises. They need a course where they can imply the lessons in real life and learn from their own experiences.

Family and Other Responsibilities

Most of the adults are at a point of life, where they have quite a few responsibilities and commitments towards family, community, work and friends. They cannot offer much time to their studies. This is actually the primarily reason why they choose a online course rather than attending a college.

This is the reason the amount of time they can concentrate on task without being distracted is shorter than children. The responsibilities on their shoulders are much important for them when compared to learning something new or themselves. They need an online course that can match their attention span and do not become a burden on them.

Adult Learners are more Result-Oriented

Adults have very specific expectations for what they are doing. They do not indulge easily in work that cannot meet their expectation levels. They choose a course with a hope to learn something beneficial. They are results oriented. If they feel what they are getting out of learning activities is of their no use, they often drop out.

They have some goals that they are trying to achieve. The course should help them to reach their goals and the learning activities should have positive results for them.

Emotional Barriers

Adults are full of emotions. Though with experiences, they know how to control them sometimes emotions overpower their mind. Learning is not the only thing in their life. While learning, there is another plenty of things are going on that are a part of their daily lifestyle.

They may feel angry about some job responsibilities, disappointed about some family issue or their mind may have fear for a subject. These emotions generally interfere with the learning process. For that, they need a course that can successfully indulge them in its motivating activities and interesting enough to forget them about the other aspects of life.

Adult-Learners have a more Practical Mind

Adults have a practical bent of mind. They prefer practical knowledge that can make their work easier at the workplace or prove some important skills. They immediately see the importance of what they are learning and adapt it to real life situations. They like to gain proficiency in workplace skills as it boosts up confidence and improves self-esteem.

They need a course that has personal relevance in learning activities. The course objectives should be practical enough to keep their interest or else they will not continue.

Autonomy

Adults prefer independence. They are self-directed and do not need to spoon-feed everything. Like in life, they also want options and choices in the learning environment. They do not want instructors to set their goals. All they need is to instructors help them in achieving their learning objectives.

 

E-LEARNING FOR ADULT LEARNERS

Busy work schedules, hectic personal lives and a long list of responsibilities may prevent adults from continuing their education. In this never ending journey, e-learning emerged as a life saver for adult learners to further their education and obtain necessary skills online. There is no doubt that e-learning offers a wider learning environment for adult learners over traditional learning. We have already discussed the generalized characteristics of adult learners in the above section and e-learning fulfill all these requirements successfully.

Children tend to learn new things every time, but on contrary adult learn only when they feel the need to learn. E-learning provides flexibility to learn, apply, carry out and innovate at the pace of the learner. Adults are very practical and they allow someone to teach only when they feel the knowledge they gain provides them significant benefits. Online courses provide them a variety of options to choose and attain knowledge only in those specific fields they want.

E-learning places more control over learning and its transfer rather than the other activities, and this is all that an adult learner wants the most. So, if you are struggling between ever growing to do lists and developing skills or earning a degree, then you may need to consider the following 5 e-learning benefits and continue further with your education.

Empowers and Motivate

Motivation is the key to success. Be it a child or an adult, everyone needs the motivation to achieve their goals and power to face all the obstacles coming in their way. In the busy schedule, the adult learners generally stuck between their personal and professional life. E-learning empowers them to take control over their personal and professional life and encourage them to learn.

E-learning helps them acquire new skills that help them in their careers and on some level, these skills improve their personal lives. This results in that extra bit of motivation to take full responsibility for the education and profession.  This makes them active participants in their own learning journey.

No Interference with Personal or Professional Life

The most important reason that many adults drop out from colleges or do not enroll in classes is that they don’t want to have a choice between their personal or professional life and education. No doubt, education is a necessity for all but it is invaluable in front of other facets of life. However, it is also true that education itself has the power to improve all aspects of an adult life.

To make the adult’s learning journey a strength rather than a weakness, E-learning is the most appropriate option. It doesn’t conflict with personal appointments or work schedule. Adult learners get access to education, anywhere and anytime through e-learning. They do not need to miss out on their child’s first birthday, or do not have to decide between an important office meeting and class. They can engage in learning when the time is right for them.

Customize Learning Experience

Adult learners are quite selective while choosing a course suitable for them. They come with abundant experience and when it comes to education all they want is a good instructional design to customize their learning according to their needs. Neither two learners are same nor is their learning experiences. All have gone through a lot in their life and learn different lessons.

E-learning gives adult learners a platform to customize their e-learning experience. E-learning gives them an opportunity to have complete control over how and what they learn. They can explore a topic of their interest, master a specific skill set or can take on with their prior learning experiences. They have control over every aspect of their e-learning procedure.

No Need to spend extra Bucks in Travel Arrangements

Everyone loves to travel, but on weekends or vacation. Adults hardly can take out time for traveling from their hectic lifestyle. Even if they want to; the traffic these days doesn’t favor them. This is one of the reasons that adults barely enroll in some morning or evening training classes.

However, in e-learning, everything gets done virtually. Adult learners do not need to spend the time to make travel arrangements or spend money to pay for transportation. They can continue with their learning online, even if they live in a distant area. They can have access to high-level education without waiting for n traffic to get to the class or taking the time to arrange transportation to attend some training event.

Improves Knowledge Retention   

Learning is tough but the toughest part is to retain it for the lifetime. The personalized learning experience has its own perks and benefits. It gives learners facility to learn at their own pace and their own terms, which is a proven formula to boost knowledge absorption and retention. E-learning gives adult learners opportunity to personalize their learning and imply them in the real-life situation.

Adult learners can freely choose when to move onto next chapter, rather than moving along with the others. This helps them to control over their learning capacity and retaining power. The more knowledge they preserve, the more success they achieve.

 

A FINAL NOTE: Integrating Adult Learners in Online Classrooms

In this race of life, everybody is moving as fast as they can to win. In the game of winning and losing, we usually forget about an essential element of success-education. Education is the strongest pillar of victory. A person without education is same as a building without foundation. However, we restrict ourselves in the boundaries created by others. We may have stuck in those boundaries of personal and professional life, but technology has its no limits.

With the innovation of the e-learning application, technology has given adults a second chance to achieve what they miss out while taking caring of other responsibilities. E-learning fits into any schedule. No matters you are a trainee or a Director of a company, you can access e-learning courses anywhere convenient for you.

“Not everyone fits into the traditional school model, and the online program provides another way for to meet the diverse and often unique needs of students” –    Pete Chaplin

 

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