eople learn in different ways, but one thing for sure is adults learn differently to younger children in school. If a high school approach to learning was applied to an adult e-learning course, you would feel your intelligence is insulted and be resentful of it.
With e-learning for adults, there are considerations applied to the different life stages, so there are sometimes assumptions made about the core skills you are expected to have, and that’s where course providers differ. Some expect a basic understanding of a topic and elaborate in the course material to build upon existing understandings, whereas others make no assumptions to ensure each part of a course builds upon the previous.
For newcomers entering the e-learning stratosphere, there are five important differences you should be aware of:
Autonomous learning is expected (although not necessary)
Adults don’t typically need coaxing to learn. As such, adult e-learning is based on learning autonomously. You are expected to act independently and learn what you need to and how you need to. Support will be provided by most training providers, but a more powerful form of learning (that sticks) is to do the research independently to ensure you understand the lessons discussed.
If learning is a problem, you can access tutor help or learning support services. However, another thing to consider is that group discussions can take place anywhere and students can organise their own study groups.
In workplaces where training is provided, it is often done in group classes to encourage group participation and discussion. This doesn’t happen with an independent e-learning course, but it is definitely something that’s possible to apply to your own learning by finding groups of students either studying the same course or the same topic, or a group that has done course work on the same topic recently.
This will create the group discussion aspect you can get in traditional learning environments and reduce some the isolation associated with independent learning. It is also something that can help keep you motivated as you push through the various course modules.
Something else that can’t be dismissed about autonomous learning is how each student can construct their own learning environment. It could be listening to a certain type of music, studying at a certain time of day or night, or perhaps even adding elements to courses such as creating a quiz, word search of common terms you need to remember, or creating crossword puzzles – all of which can be done using online generators for each type of puzzle. There are a range of options to make learning more fun.
Adult e-learning solves problems you’re having now or are likely to have soon
The difference between younger years learning and adult learning is substantial. In the younger years, learning is just about doing tasks and retaining enough information to pass exams. Adult e-learning is created to help learners solve the problems they are either experiencing in the workplace, like communication barriers, or it will have elements taught that are scenario-based and based on what could happen when you’re in work. Some scenarios can even be drawn from real-life scenarios, adding an emotional element to the lesson.
There are more emotional connections involved in e-learning
Typically, when you’re studying, it is fact-based content. Students need to read and listen to lectures. The multimedia environment of the internet makes it possible to create emotionally charged content that can read like stories, tell the life problems people experience, demonstrate on video different scenarios, and use images and careful placement of colours to supercharge the emotional element of your learning. The more your emotions are stirred, the more you’re likely to remember – and it makes your learning more fun because you’re not mundanely reading textbook content written for academics.
Courses are designed for on-the-go learning
Adults taking e-learning courses typically choose this method of study because of its convenience. For that reason, e-learning courses are best designed to be accessed on multiple platforms. You aren’t expected to sit in front of a computer for three to six hours per day. Instead, the courses are broken down into smaller chunks using modules or units, providing easy access to information that can be accessed on mobiles and e-readers; you don’t need additional apps installed to access them, and you can study while on the train, bus, or for some light reading material during a lunch break.
Faster feedback encourages consistent learning
With traditional learning, tests are completed in stages. This is the only time feedback is made available to students. This translates to longer times going without knowing if you’ve fully understood one subject area, before moving onto the next.
With e-learning courses, as mentioned earlier, the modules or units are broken down into smaller chunks for ease of access and to make it a lighter learning experience. The advantage this creates is tests can be included at the end of each individual topic, giving vital feedback, letting students know they’ve understood the information and retained it. If not, they will know the areas which are a little hazy that ought to be revised again for a more thorough comprehension of the topic.
The structure of e-learning courses is best designed to build on the knowledge of previous lessons. If the previous lessons aren’t understood, learners are able to identify where their weaknesses are, further revise, redo tests and then move on when they know for sure they have the existing knowledge to build on.