Transformational Learning Opportunities for Adults in the Online Christian Classroom Heidi Bunten
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Online education is a way for many adults to return to school. The convenience of being able to attend class from home makes it easier for them to work their course loads around family and job duties. Having knowledge of how adults learn is important for educators and specifically educators in an online program where there are a lot of adults attending. It is also important for the adults who are living them. Adult learning theories are a way to understand the differences adults have when they learn verses children. All people have factors like beliefs, family roles, views of themselves, and personality types playing lead or supporting roles in how they act in the world. These differences cause people to process information differently and learn in individual ways (Cercone, 2008). This paper will look at adult learning theories and some of the tools that educators can use in an online classroom to tailor the experience more appropriately to adult learners. The first article this paper will look at talks about what an adult learner is like and how to translate that to an online classroom. There are things about adult learners that are unique to them and their learning process. Some of these include: having responsibilities outside of school and learning how to maneuver online. Understanding a few of the main ideas behind andragogy, which is the study of how adults learn, gives educators an idea of how to proceed in building the online classroom. Andragogy was developed by Dr. Knowles and since then learning theories have developed from his ideas. These are: Experiential Learning, Self-directed Learning, and Transformative Learning. These learning theories provide information about how an adult learner will most likely thrive from their education. These tools should be used while keeping in mind that it is most important to try to understand each particular student without grouping all adult learners together (Cercone, 2008). The second article talks about transformative learning theory and more specifically how it affects adults in a Christian online learning environment. The transformation that takes place causes a change in the worldview that the student was previously acting upon. This change would be translated into action in the life of the learner. Providing critical thinking assignments and conversation between students helps encourage transformative learning. When current beliefs are challenged by biblical principles in a non-threatening way it helps the adult learner to understand what it is they truly believe and why (McEwen, 2012). These two articles both speak about adult learning theory and how it relates to adults in the education environment. The first article goes into great detail about the general things an educator needs to know about who adult learners are and then talks about adult learning theories that compliment while relating it to the online environment. The second article talks specifically about one of these adult learning theories: transformative learning. They both speak about how important critical thinking is to transformative learning and ways that educators can bring it about in their online classrooms.
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In conclusion, adult learning theories are important to understand not just for the producers of online education programs, but also for the adult learner. The more educators understand their students the better their programs will be. A student...