When it comes to learning, there’s endless literature and research that explore the best way to educate today’s youth. They are the future, after all. But, learning doesn’t end when you leave your school-age years behind. Learning is never-ending, and education is a life-long endeavor. This is especially true when it comes to health and safety education and training in the workplace.
There has been more research and discovery in the adult education field to try to discern how adults learn best, how educating adults differs from the education of children, and how to ensure that adults retain the important information that they’ve set out to learn. When it comes to adult learning, the methods and trends are ever-evolving. Below, we look at the top current trends in adult learning.
Adult learners demand more from instructors. They learn best from, and value, instructors that can offer enriched learning experiences through discussions and stories that stem from the instructor’s own relevant experiences. Adult learning and instruction is also moving toward more collaboration between learners and instructors, creating a learning environment where both instructors and learners create value and learning opportunities by bringing their unique knowledge and experiences to the table.
Adult learning trends have been moving away from a lot of hand-holding, and toward an atmosphere of accountability. Since adults require learning at their own discretion and that works within their busy schedules, self-led learning is more ideal than traditional classroom-style education. It allows adult learners to be proactive in their educations, and to contribute to the learning process.
Self-directed learning (SDL) is an instructional strategy where the students, with guidance from the teacher, decide what and how they will learn. It can be done individually or with group learning, but the overall concept is that students take ownership of their learning.
For example, a teacher may give a general learning goal, such as to learn about a geographical area. Students would then work with the teacher to decide the scope of the project, length of time, and the end result that would demonstrate their learning. One student may decide to learn all of South America and create an educational website. Another student may choose to research the deforestation effects of Borneo and write a report for the government. Another student may choose a specific city and focus on the historical significance, creating a video vignette from personal interviews. By allowing students to choose different learning objectives and outcomes, it allows students to choose based on their personal interests and strengths.
To make learning accessible to adults, it needs to be on-demand. Being constricted to a classroom schedule just doesn’t fit into most adult’s lifestyles. They require learning that they can access anytime, anywhere. Mobile training offers this flexibility. The technology that makes mobile training possible also affords opportunities for adults to use advanced learning technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and videos.
Games aren’t just child’s play! Gamification of learning can be a very effective tool for adult learning. It involves using game concepts to deliver educational messages. For example, using jeopardy-type activities in a training program and inciting a competitive spirit as opposed to just delivering multiple-choice review questions. Gamification increases engagement with, and retention of, learning materials.
Games have been used as a learning tool for centuries. Chess was used to teach strategic thinking as far back as the Middle Ages, and the game of Kreigsspiel was invented in 1812 specifically to teach Prussian officers strategy. Beyond military strategy, the genesis of Kindergarten in the mid-1800s was Friedrich Fröbel’s ideas of learning through play.
The core concept behind game-based learning is teaching through repetition, failure and the accomplishment of goals. Video games are built on this principle. The player starts off slow and gains in skill until they’re able to skillfully navigate the most difficult levels. Games that are planned and designed well will offer enough difficulty to keep it challenging while still being easy enough for the player to win.
Microlearning and Video Training
To go along with the concept of making training accessible, the idea of microlearning has gained a lot of traction in the adult learning sphere. Microlearning, according to educause.edu, takes an idea or concept and presents in a small, easy-to-digest format. This is typically and most commonly found in video form. Five-minute how-to videos are sometimes just as effective, or more so than longer, drawn-out lessons that lack video components.
Microlearning is a way to deliver training content to learners in bite-sized, focused bursts. Each unit or module focuses on an individual learning objective. Microlearning relates to the structure and the consumption of a course.
The word micro suggests that the units of content are small. But what exactly is the unit of measurement? Is it size, length, word count or detail? The answer lies in the experience rather than the content. The whole point of microlearning is the efficient consumption of training. If a 30-second video communicates the learning objective better or faster than two paragraphs of text, then that’s the medium to use.
Today, when it comes to corporate training, agility is the name of the game. And companies of all sizes have made strategic investments in tools meant to improve learning and development, including learning management systems (LMSs), video content management systems, training content development tools, and other online learning systems.