Providing quality learning experiences for adult learners is a complex task and requires instructors to consider many variables to ensure that students not only stay engaged but also achieve learning. Upon completion of each class, students should feel that the class enriched their lives in some way and that it was worth their investment of both time and money. Below, I have selected five resources to aid in the mammoth task of providing a rich learning experience to students both online and offline.
Characteristics of Adult Learners
Adult students present diverse learning preferences, making one trick-teaching ineffective (Merriam & Brockett; VCC, n.d.). To reach all learners, teachers need to adapt a variety of classroom techniques (Merriam & Brockett, 2007). To help teachers determine the cross-section of learning styles and hone their techniques, Roth’s (2014) infographic and quiz evaluates different learning styles and strengths. Roth’s (2014) summary recognizes the multitude of stresses, roles, independance, and outlooks held by adult learners (Merriam & Brockett, 2007; Bradway, 2009; Willingham, 2008; VCC, n.d.). Instructors who utilize Roth’s (2014) quiz, could identify students’ learning preferences in order to better cater to them.
Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Whether online or offline, something all instructors can control is fostering a positive learning environment. As instructor Trisha Kivisalu (2014) explains, adults thrive in a positive atmosphere. One way for instructors to create positive learning environments is to apply appreciative inquiry-a philosophy that focuses on building on the strengths to promote positive change (Centre for Appreciative Inquiry, n.d.). Centreforappreciativeinquiry.net offers professional leaders a roadmap to manifest a positive environment that contributes to positive growth. From advice in how to lead engaging, inclusive discussions to how to focus on overall strengths, the Centre for Appreciative Inquiry provides instructors a strength-based foundation to build positive learning experiences.
As education scholars Poulson et al. (2007) purport, motivation can be achieved in a learning environment by grabbing the attention of learners, providing relevance of learning content, building confidence within learners, and ensuring learners are satisfied with the process (ARCS). The E-learning Industry website offers tried and true strategies written by practicing professionals to help adhere to Poulson et al.’s (2007) ARCS model. While elearningindustry.com does not explicitly refer to ARCS, several articles relate to offering engaging activities that promote attention, connecting learning to real world experiences (relevance), creating sound assessments (confidence), and offering effective feedback (satisfaction).
Ensuring learning objectives are met relies on instructors choosing sound strategies to achieve their intended outcomes (Merriam & Brockett, 2007). The University of Saskatchewan provides educators an in-depth summary of different instructional methods and activities to try in the classroom. The site suggests activities depending on an instructor’s teaching philosophy. For example, for those interested in experiential learning strategies, the site suggests instructors implement activities such as field trips and experiments. Each strategy is accompanied by real world applications and examples to spark creativity. The strategies presented on the site could be adjusted to apply to unique situations.
Use of Media
Whether teaching online or offline, effective use of media assists learning, helps foster motivation, and helps appease different learning styles (Using Media in Lessons, Vancouver Community College, n.d.). In today’s digital world, bringing in various forms of technological media such as cellphones, tablets, websites, and social networks can provide learners an enriched experience (Teacher’s Guide to Technology, Edudemic, n.d.). Edudemic offers several teacher’s guides covering a wide range of technological medias such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Glass. Having a trusted and reliable source such as Edudemic offers instructors up to date, tactical media tips to try in his or her learning environment.
Bradway, S. (n.d.). [Video file]. Visions of an adult learner today. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/tu24QNtRado
Center for Appreciative Inquiry. (n.d.) General website. Retrieved from http://www.centerforappreciativeinquiry.net
Edudemic. (n.d.). Teaching guides. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/guides/
E-learning Industry. (n.d.). General website. Retrieived from http://elearningindustry.com
Kivasalu, T. (n.d.) [Video file]. Trisah introduces component 3- positive learning environments. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/KJoDj3v6LeY
Merriam, S. & Brockett, R. (2007). The profession and practice of adult education. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
Poulsen et al. (2008). Arcs model of motivational design. Retrieved from http://www.torreytrust.com/images/ITH_Turst.pdf
Roth, J. (March 18, 2014). Why learning types matter. Retrieved from http://interactyx.com/social-learning-blog/why-learning-types-matter/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Interactyx_Blog+%28Social+Learning+management+System+Blog%3A+Interactyx%29
University of Saskatchewan. (n.d.). Instructional strategies. Retrieved from http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/pd/instr/index.html
Vancouver Community College. (n.d.). Using media in lessons. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://moodle.vcc.ca/mod/resource/view.php?id=346050
Vancouver Community College. (n.d.). The adult learner. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://moodle.vcc.ca/mod/resource/view.php?id=346026
Willingham, D. (August 28, 2008). [Video file]. Learning styles don’t exist. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/sIv9rz2NTUk