Adult Learning Theory and eLearning: Why and How to Educate Yourself Best
Remember what famous rockstar Alice Cooper told us?
“Schoooooooool’s out! Forever!”
He was right…sort of.
While traditional school may be over for you, the thing you did in school – learning – probably isn’t.
Like most working adults, you may have decided to continue your education.
Or, perhaps you haven’t yet and know that you should.
Well, in today’s post we’ll go over why adults continue learning (adult learning theory), how adults effectively learn, and the #1 method for learning every adult can benefit from.
So first up, the reason for continuing education.
Why Adults Continue Learning
There are many reasons why adults decide to seriously learn new subjects and skills long after graduation.
We list the 3 most common reasons below.
To Advance Their Career
Probably the biggest reason adults undertake learning initiatives is to move up the ladder in the organization they work for.
This is especially true if you work in a culture of continuous learning.
The fact is, ongoing education makes you more valuable as an employee. You will inevitably know more than your peers, be able to do more than them, and be able to take on the greater responsibilities that come with a promotion and raise.
Of course, expanding your education also makes you more marketable.
Consider licenses or certifications like the CISSP certification. That goes a long way in helping you find a better job or get the accreditation you require to move up in your agency.
To Keep Their Minds Active
Beyond career goals, many adults decide to further their education in order to keep their minds active and healthy.
According to the Association for Psychological Science:
“New research indicates that only certain activities — learning a mentally demanding skill like photography, for instance — are likely to improve cognitive functioning.”
A psychological scientist and the lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas goes on to say that:
“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”
Learning new skills, even in the work environment, will provide the stimulation needed to keep your mind healthy.
To Earn a Degree
For some people, they need to continue learning to get the degree they never got, and may need.
This may for career advancement, but it may also be personal.
More often than not, we learn things for reasons that have nothing to do with making money or advancing our careers. Rather, many people continue learning to prove to themselves that they can do it. To feel a sense of personal achievement and to receive the honor of that achievement, like a degree from a good university.
Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to continue learning, which is what we cover in the next section.
How Adults Learn (Adult Learning Theory)
What regular people call adult education, famed American educator Malcolm Shepherd Knowles called Andragogy – a synonym that basically means the art, science, and theory of adult learning.
Knowles became famous for penning his “5 assumptions of Adult Learners”:
- Self-concept – While children have a dependent concept of self, adults see themselves as self-direction.
- Adult learner experience – The more an adult has learned, the more knowledge an understanding they can bring to the next subject.
- Readiness to learn – An adult’s readiness to learn is more dependent on their social roles than on their physiological development, like it is in children.
- Orientation to learning – Adults orient themselves around learning in terms of immediate application.
- Motivation to learn – The most powerful motivator to learn comes from within for adults, while external motivators like a promotion or a raise also play a role.
These 5 assumptions tell you how adults should approach learning, but not the methods for learning itself.
That’s what we touch on in the next section.
Why eLearning is the Best Option for Adult Learning
Adults can use books, videos, in-person trainers, lived experience, and a host of other ways to actually take information into their brains and learn it.
But the #1 way…
The way that matches Knowles’ 5 assumptions of adult learners…
It allows adults to learn in short bursts on their own, called microlearning.
It’s more effective than other forms of learning.
And it’s one of the cheapest options out there.
If you need to implement an adult learning platform in your agency that covers every topic under the sun from IT to project management, then get your free trial of Enterprise Training below!
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