Whenever “education” and “learning” are mentioned, most people immediately associate those words with children and youths. Adult learning is its own category, but there is more work in getting adults to learn, and to be invested in learning. It’s not that the old dog can’t learn new tricks, you just have to teach them differently.
Attributes of adult learners include:
1. Self direction
Adults like to maintain control over their decisions, so giving adult learners the options to decide how much content they’d like to consume in a given amount of time, and to customize the depth to which they’d like to explore a given topic, is important in driving learner engagement.
In general, adult learners prefer learning things that are immediately applicable to what they are trying to accomplish. Extraneous information and theory might be viewed as wasting time, so be sure to include content that addresses their immediate asks and is practical to improving their skills.
3. Resistant to change
Most adults are creatures of habit, and some are resistant to new things. Giving them the reasons why the learning needs to happen will enable them to overcome their inertia and encourage exploration.
As children, learning is generally mandatory and necessary. As an adult learner, one may or may not choose to take on new learning. Being able to connect with an adult learner’s personal motivation to develop themselves is critical to creating material they will want to absorb.
Being an adult means having a lot of simultaneous responsibilities that all require some amount of time and attention every day and need to be prioritized effectively. This is why learning needs to be accessible and can work around busy schedules, tying into Self Direction at the beginning. Giving learners ways to work learning into their priorities will be more effective at getting adults to use their limited free time to develop themselves.
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