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Adult learning: Engagement is key

When my kids do their homework, I’m always amazed by how much learning styles and curricula have changed since my days of middle school and high school.

Then, I think back to college. I now work at a university (my full-time job), and again, it’s eye-opening how different things are. Case in point: There were no laptops and we often sat glassy-eyed over as professors lectured for an hour.

Now that I’m a working professional, I’ve experienced some truly awful learning opportunities (#Fail). Professional development is key to success, but since times have changed, it’s important to create the right learning environment for adult learners.

According to a new e-book by Raptivity, motivation and experience are the two major factors that influence adult learning. 

When it comes to motivation, adult learners must feel the need to learn. They often ask, “What’s in it for me?” In today’s busy world, they want to learn now and in the quickest way possible. And they learn best when they have opportunities to practice.

Raptivity offers some tips for designers looking to engage adult learners.

  • Give them control of their learning.
  • Offer problem-centered learning and provide practice opportunities for how to solve those problems.
  • Offer real-life scenarios

There are generally four types of interactivity, the e-book says, starting from the basics (page turning) to enriched interactions (scenarios and virtual reality).

In the fourth and most complex level of learning interactivity, simulations work well. Serious games are also effective, in which learners are expected to make on-the-spot decisions and then contend with the results of those decisions. Games work well for skills and compliance training.

“The possibilities of building interactivity and creating interactions in e-learning courses are endless,” Raptivity says. “Factors like learning objectives, type of training and content, target audience and project scope will greatly influence the level of interactivity for your course. Choosing the right combination and amount of interactions is the key for effective adult learning.”

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