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Adult Learning Definition

Adult learning refers to educational endeavors undertaken by adults outside the official training. It encompasses a wide range of adult learning theories and principles and education options, including self-directed learning, informal environments, professional development courses, and continuing education programs.

One of the distinctive features of adult learning concepts is that it is choice-based and self-directed. Adults have more influence over this process and can choose to pursue opportunities that are relevant to their personal and professional life. This means that adult learners have the choice to pick their own training objectives, adult learning methodology, and accountability for their own outcomes and results. These features are often used by LMS for employee onboarding, as those have proven themselves very efficient. So, how do adults learn?

Adult education is differentiated by its relevance to learners' lives and jobs. So, it is essential to know what's an adult learner. In contrast to traditional teaching, which usually focuses on abstract or theoretical notions, adult learning is grounded on the actual realities of the learners' life. Adult learners are more likely to be motivated and engaged in the process because they can create a clear link between their learning and personal experiences and goals.

Adult Learning Theory Principles

Several ideas underpin the adult education hypothesis. Adult learners, for example, are more likely to be self-directed in this process, to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the educational process, and to be motivated by real-world, when it comes to valuable experiences. Other guiding themes include the need for active and experiential education strategies, the need to accommodate different training preferences and styles, and the importance of creating a welcoming, cozy, and respectful environment.

The adult learning cycle is based on several principles. Even though those may vary depending on the industry and main goals, certain fundamental ones are common to every field of human activity. Among the essential ideas are the following:

1. Self-directed learning: adults can conveniently control their education and adjust it according to their interests, desires, and ambitions.

2. The longer we live, the more experience we gather. In turn, this experience can significantly benefit and supplement the educational process. Thus, boosting the pace and efficiency of getting new knowledge.

3. A person's experience makes training far more efficient and effective, especially when discussing utilizing a person's professional expertise and experience.

4. Active participation is another aspect that makes training more efficient. Thus, allowing workers to use their knowledge is a great idea. This is especially true if we speak about SaaS product training.

5. Sharing knowledge is also a great idea. It allows for collaborative learning, which boosts the overall process and its results.

6. Considering that every person is different and carries distinct backgrounds, viewpoints, and beliefs, it is essential to honor and respect all these differences. More importantly, one should reflect these in their training programs to make them more efficient.

Models Of Adult Learning

Adult-based learning models can aid in the design and execution of adult education and training programs. Gerald Grow developed the self-directed model, Jack Mezirow developed the transformational model, and Malcolm Knowles developed the andragogy model. Each model focuses on a different aspect of the adult learning process and provides a framework for understanding how adults learn and how they might be assisted in their training. The best option is to use the strengths of all these approaches. Thus, AcademyOcean, in their LMS for sales, allows utilizing these and other approaches to boost learning. Here are the main ones: 

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1. Malcolm Knowles developed the andragogy paradigm, emphasizing self-directed education, building on prior knowledge, and integrating courses into real-world scenarios.

2. The transformational learning approach, developed by Jack Mezirow, stresses how critical reflection and self-awareness may change a learner's perspective and worldview.

3. David Kolb developed the experiential training paradigm, which significantly focuses on skills obtained via active inquiry, abstract concepts, and actual experiences.

Adult Learning definition

The Most Effective Adult Learning Techniques

A range of excellent adult training tactics may be used to improve the educational process. These tactics and approaches include more traditional methods like lectures and conversations and more modern methods such as role-playing, simulations, and problem-solving activities. Other means include:

  • Employing real-world case studies and examples.
  • Leveraging technology-based tools.
  • Providing opportunities for reflection and feedback.

Using these strategies, educators and trainers may create successful educational experiences that meet the needs and interests of adult learners. Thus, it is wise for a company interested in upskilling its employees to utilize them in real work and training programs.

The majority of successful adult training techniques are founded on the concepts of adult learning theory and consider adult learners' needs and preferences. Here are some of the more effective ones that highlight how adults learn best:

1. Active learning is a hands-on, experiential style that encourages learners to employ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

2. Collaborative training: Adult learners may learn from one another by sharing their experiences and information. A collaborative approach may be seen in group projects, peer mentorship, and online discussion forums.

3. Adult learners take care of their education and are motivated by their interests and goals. Self-directed learning includes online classes, webinars, and self-paced study programs that boost the readiness to learn in adults.

4. Blended learning combines online and in-person education, allowing learners to choose when and where to learn. At the same time, they also use traditional means. It allows using the strengths of both while navigating their weaknesses.

5. Small, manageable training exercises known as "microlearning" may be completed quickly and easily. It may be accomplished through podcasts, infographics, online videos, and other information.

distinctive features of adult learning

To summarize, adult learning is a vast and dynamic subject that includes various educational options outside of regular environments. Adult learners have more significant influence over their learning and are motivated by real-world experiences and relevance to their personal and professional lives.

Principles such as self-directed learning, active involvement, experiential learning, and the significance of accommodating varied learning styles and preferences underlie adult education. Effective adult training approaches focus on these concepts and include tactics like active learning, collaborative training, self-directed learning, blended learning, and microlearning. These techniques can assist firms in developing compelling educational experiences that fit the requirements and interests of adult learners, resulting in more productive and engaged employees.Request a Demo

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