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8 Facts About Adult Learners Every Instructional Designer Should Know

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8 Facts About Adult Learners Every Instructional Designer Should Know

As an instructional designer, one of the biggest challenges we face is keeping our learners’ motivated throughout the eLearning course. Most of our learners’ are adults. Adults learn differently when compared to children. Children tend to learn new things all the time; adults learn only when they feel the necessity to learn. Adults are more practical and they learn only when the knowledge they gain provides them substantial benefits.

In this blog, I will share eight facts about adult learners’ that every instructional designer should know.

1. They are self-directed

Adult learners’ can learn independently and we need not spoon-feed them. Adults like to explore the subject matter through examples and address problems through interactive exercises, instead of being passive recipients of information, where they have no control over course navigation. As an instructional designer, it’s important to design a course in such a way that learners’ can learn what they want to learn, when they want.

2. They need to know why they should learn something

Adults like to know the reasons why they should learn something. It’s important to clearly explain what is in the course for them and what they will achieve by taking it. This will motivate learners’ to complete the course.

3. They are pragmatic

Adult learners’ have a practical bent of mind. They can quickly see the relevance of what they are learning and adapt it to real-life situations. Unless they feel that they are able to implement what they are learning and reap suitable dividends from the course, they will not continue.

4. They need to be motivated

In the learning process, the learners’ need to be motivated. This can be done at the beginning, during and at the end of the learning process because effective motivation sustains the learners’ attention. By adding icebreakers, a short video clip, stories, case studies, etc., the learner can be motivated at the beginning of the course. During the eLearning course, learners’ can be motivated by involving them through participation activities. To hold his motivation till the end, provide frequent feedback and talk about their progress. For more information, click here.

5. They have abundant experience

Adult learners’ come with a lot of experience. They choose a course because it helps them improve their performance at their workplace and they can meet the changing demands of work. So, an instructional designer should bring real life situations when discussing about a theory or a concept. This can be made more effective if a situation is created and the learners’ are encouraged to implement it. This helps them understand the concept thoroughly and retain it.

6. Their attention span is short

It’s a well-known fact that adults’ attention shorter when compared to children. Attention span means the amount of time that the learner concentrates on a task without being distracted. The duration of E-learning courses should be matching to their attention span. For more information, click here.

7. They don’t like to be restricted

An eLearning course with restricted navigation will not be a good option for the adult learner. Many instructional designers think that if the slides in the course are not restricted, then learners’ may click the ‘next’ button and complete the course without learning the concepts. If the course is restricted, we are forcing the adult learner to visit slides which may include concepts they already know. This leads to learner boredom. So, it’s important to let the learner explore the course and learn in the way he wants instead of restricting him to learn in a pre-determined order.

8. They don’t like to fail

After completing the course, learners’ need to take an assessment test. This will measure the knowledge acquired. While giving feedback don’t use the terms or phrases such as “failed” or “did not clear”, it may demotivate your learners. Provide inspiring feedback on how to do well the next time and give them chances to pass. If the learner fails, they may feel demotivated, lose interest and may drop out from the course. It’s important to be clear when they are being tested and when they aren’t.

What are the other things you keep in mind while designing your eLearning courses that help adult learners’ feel motivated? Please do share your thoughts!

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