E-learning: Answering the Learning Requirements of Adults

There is a lot of difference between the learning behavior of adults and that of children. The adults are generally self-directed, look for relevant information, practical-minded and learn with a lot of expectations. In such situations, the traditional pedagogical model might not address the learning requirements of these adult learners. Adults need more a kind of an effective learning methodology to get their problems solved.

Here, a learner-centric online learning module like eLearning, with a focus on addressing the learning concerns of learners in an andragogical way, can be adopted to suit the adults. Let us see how eLearning can pave the way for better learning for adults:

Allows learners to practice


Adults like to learn by doing rather than just going through long theory. The integration of effective simulations in eLearning courses can allow learners to watch, try and perform different tasks/steps repeatedly and learn accordingly. For example, a software simulation (related to ERP, SAP, etc.) can allow learners to try and practice the steps involved in such complex software themselves any number of times and then perform those steps at the time of handling the software in real working environment.

Allows learners to practice

Allows learners to practice

Gives Freedom and flexibility to access the information


As adults play multiple roles in their lives, they often find it difficult to go through some training or learning course at a specific time and at a specific location. In such situations, an online learning medium like eLearning can be like a boon for these adult learners as it allows learners to access the courses anytime, anywhere. In addition, eLearning can allow learners to learn at their own pace, which is very much preferred by the adults.

Gives control to learners over the course


According to Malcolm Knowles (an andragogy theorist), adults are self-directed. You may not require to spoon feed the adult learners with all the information like children. Adults like to explore the subject matter more during their learning journey in search of required or needed information/content. E-Learning courses can be designed in such a way that learners can access the content they want.

Makes the courses relevant for learners


Adults can connect to the course only if it contains information/content relevant to them. “How can the course help me overcome real-life problems?” is what adults mainly ask themselves while going through a course. In eLearning, the realistic case studies and scenarios can make the adult learners feel this relevancy and thus they can immediately connect with the course. While the case studies can allow learners to analyze and understand the presented problems and their respective solutions in a situation or event (usually real), scenarios on the other hand can be used to make learners think over the possible solution themselves for the given problem in a situation (not necessarily real). Both, case studies and scenarios that reflect realistic day-to-day situations of life can be very effective in enhancing the problem-solving, reasoning and decision making skills of learners.

Allows learners to know what they will achieve

It is well known that adults are goal oriented. The well-defined objectives in eLearning courses can allow learners to know what they can do after the completion of the course. This can motivate the learners to complete the course. From the screenshot given below we can see how the learning objectives can be broken into sentences and presented in bulleted list so that learners can be made clear what they are going to achieve after the completion of course.

Allows learners to know what they will achieve

Provides a sense of satisfaction

According to John Keller’s ARCS model of motivational design (an instructional design model), learners feel satisfied when they are rewarded. In this regard, certificates can be provided to learners at the end of an eLearning course, which can make the learners feel immensely satisfied.

Thus, we have seen how eLearning with an andragogical approach can enable adults to reach their learning objectives. I may have missed a few points that can show the effectiveness of eLearning in catering to the learning requirements of adults. Would you like to add to this? Please do share your views. We would really appreciate your response.

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