Photo by: Seth Schwiet via Unsplash
Many organizations are using eLearning as one of their go-to training methods because of the many advantages it offers. The audience for these modules comes with many needs and wants. It’s essential for instructional designers to keep in mind how adults learn, as well as what motivates them, as they design eLearning experiences.
Adults Want the Opportunity to Participate
Adults are accustomed to being active. They should be given an opportunity for active participation whenever possible. Incorporate a broad range of methods to make the overall eLearning experience more meaningful and productive. Design eLearning modules that are informative and engaging versus overly challenging or nondescript.
Rather than reading and memorization tasks, use a variety of practical activities to facilitate learning. Create opportunities for learners to apply their new skills in useful ways. Surveys, challenges, discussions, research projects, and practical exercises are all ways to facilitate application of these skills. Participants can learn from the challenges and master new skills through first-hand experience.
Adults Want Courses That Are Relevant
Adults like to know how things relate to their jobs. They want courses that focus on real-life problems and tasks rather than academic material. Focus on knowledge and skills they can apply to their situation, incorporating only the “need-to-know” content.
Use video demonstration or incorporate a real-life scenario into the module, weaving the content within the context of the experience. The more you can relate to the everyday experiences of the learner, the more likely they are to see the relevance of the course and engage in the learning experience. Always choose images that are relatable to learners.
Adults Are Time-Oriented
Adults have a here-and-now viewpoint and wish to focus on current issues rather than material that may be useful in the distant future. They want to learn things they can use right away and don’t want their time wasted.
Instructions for activities should be clear and concise to avoid any guesswork on what the task entails. Have a support system in place for users to ask questions and get help for overcoming obstacles. Eliminate potential technology issues and incorporate a way for users to get technical support when needed.
Adults Need to Maintain Their Self-Esteem
Help adult learners become competent and confident through guided practice and with feedback on how they are progressing toward their goals. The timing of feedback is critical. The longer the interval between performance and feedback, the less likely it is that feedback will have a positive effect on learning.
Incorporate practical tips or hints throughout the course. This is a valuable way to scaffold content and set learners up for success. Provide feedback immediately after a skill is performed. Most authoring tools have direct and automatic feedback options built in, making this a simple addition to your online course. Acknowledge progression at different sections of the modules to give learners a sense of completion and satisfaction.
Integrate these principles of adult learning into your eLearning course for maximum engagement and motivation.
For more instructional design tips on how to apply adult learning principles in eLearning modules, check out Langevin’s 3-day Web-Based Training workshop.