Online Learning and Adult Learners
Online learning or e-learning is a recent phenomenon. The transition from traditional methods of learning to learning online is not easy. Despite the difficulties and challenges in learning through technological medium, online learning provides opportunity for adults to fulfill their dreams later in life in achieving life long goals, or enhance their knowledge for professional advancement and open doors for better job opportunity and improved life style. It is economical and allows flexible learning pace.
“Transforming a course to an online format might provide the opportunity to include additional content which was too difficult to include in a traditional class (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004; Simonson et al., 2009)”.
Online learning is designed for learners who are self-disciplined, self-directed, organized and timely. It is an environment where participants are responsible for themselves and controls how and what they learn. Andragogy, “the art and science of how adults learn”, (Malcolm Knowles’, adult learning theory), defines adults to be autonomous and self-centered, who like to have full control in their learning. Online learning supports self-directed learning. Building an online learning environment supporting self-directed learning that allows participants to work on problems and tasks of their selection and yet provide them with learning support contextualized to individual chosen problems is a challenge on its own.
As an instructor/trainer it is important to be aware that people have different level of readiness to self-directed learning. The factors are driven by age, ethnicity, learning ability etc. By providing a collaborative learning environment, creating multi-tiered course structure that is progressively challenging, including variety of activities with the course topics incorporating the four-stage learning cycle, (David Kolb,...
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