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Adult Learning Principles and Strategies - 7 Instructional Design Tips to Keep Adults Learners Engag

Keeping adult learners engaged during an eLearning course, can at times be difficult at times. Here are 5 principles that you should consider, in order to make any eLearning course engaging for an adult learner.Please note that although these points are addressed to eLearning development, many of the tips apply to classroom sessions as well.

Have the learners PRACTICE key learning points

There should always be plenty of practice exercises in your eLearning course to ensure that adult learners fully absorb and remember the subject matter content. This is also critical in order to ensure that the adult learner actually understands, and can apply key concepts to their workplace.

Consider what the learner ALREADY KNOWS

There is nothing worse for an adult learner then to go through a course that presents content they already know (BORING). Adult learners have had life experiences, and they have typically accumulated a broad knowledge base by the time they enter the workplace. As such, when you're designing your eLearning courses for adult audiences, you need to take their experience and educational background into account, before starting the instructional design of the course. In other words, it is of high importance to assess your audience carefully. What is the highest level of education they've completed? What do they already know about the course content? What workplace experiences do they have, that apply to the content being presented? Which particular tasks are they usually asked to perform, while at work? Do they already know the technical jargon that is commonly used in their profession? You should know the answers to all of these questions, before the storyboarding for your eLearning course begins.

Offer immediate FEEDBACK on EVERY Practice Activity

Always make the educational experience more effective by offering immediate feedback. This means that when the learner make an errors, or even when they need clarification on an activity, feedback mechanisms are been built into your eLearning course.

WIIFM – Tell the learners WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM f(or in another words why they should take the eLearning course)

Adult learners need to be informed of the real world benefits beforehand and the value of taking the eLearning course. This helps to encourage, engage and motivate the learner to both take and complete the course.

Make sure your screens aren’t static – Avoid content OVERLOAD

On each screen in your eLearning course, break your content into small chunks to help avoid information overload. Avoid using large blocks of text, rather summarize your ideas into bullet points or numbered lists instead that make it easy for the leaner to digest and understand key concepts.

Make the learning PRETTY!

Adult learners now in days, expect that courses will be aesthetically pleasing. Any eLearning courses should be an interactive and visually stimulating experience which include high resoultion images, colourful fonts and graphic elements that represent the key concepts that the course is teaching.

Make sure the learning applies and represents the LEARNERS WORKPLACE

Adult learners need to see the relevance in what they are learning and all activities in an eLearning module should represent the realities of the learner’s workplace. Examples and activities should be customized to demonstrate how the new skills apply to a learner’s specific workplace, in order to ensure a transfer of learning will take place on the job.

Keep these tips in mind to create engaging eLearning courses for your workplace. To learn more about the engaging eLearning courses Pathways Training and eLearning offers, contact us at or at 1-888-961-6011 extension 121 or 122.

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