Ausburn, L.J. (2004). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: An American perspective. Educational Media International 41(4).
Part time adult learners make up over half of the higher education market. The for-profit schools have grown rapidly due to their focus on serving these nontraditional students. Established principles for meeting the needs of adults include understanding the purpose of the learning, how it will be applied, relevance to experience, and self-direction. Studies show that previous experience in non-traditional education environments and gender affect attitude and behavior in distance learning. Interactive course designs and promote communication and bonding in learning communities is desired. The study looked at gender, technology skills, prior experience in distance learning, prior experience with self-directed learning, and the features of the course they thought were most helpful. The ATLAS instrument used in the study identified three main types of learners: navigators (results-oriented learners looking for efficient navigation of the course), problem solvers (critical thinkers who analyze a problem deeply before solving it), and engagers (passionate learners with high involvement). The most important course features to learners dealt with the structure and guidance of the course. Next comes the instructional content. The next was convenience factors that streamlined common tasks. And last was communication features. In terms of content, the most important instructional goals related to individualization, self-directed learning, variety of activity types, and communication/interaction. Some features showed up in different orders for each of the student types.
Bergeven, P. (1967). Concepts to implement the education of adults. In A philosophy for adult education. New York: The Seabury Press.
Adults can learn. Some adults may not participate in lifelong learning due to lack of organization, discipline, or a desire to change. While everyone is limited to some extent by age, mental capacity, or otherwise, everyone can break through these differences and excuses to learn. Adults and children have different educational processes. Some teachers are hired for adult education because they are good at child education, but understanding the differences between adults and children will help teachers of adults be more effective. Adults are more focused on creating/maintaining family relationships, raising children, working, keeping up the home, and social responsibilities. Physical ailments make it more difficult to learn as one gets older, and changing one’s opinions and mindset is also more difficult as one ages and becomes more set in their ways. They do, however, have longer attention spans than children, as well as experiences to draw from. Existing institutions are effective channels. Schools, libraries, churches, hospitals, and other organizations should all take on the responsibility to push for adult learning. Adult education programs should be indigenous. Education should be natural, built around real problems they are experiencing and in a familiar environment. Expectations should be reconciled. Each person has something different they are looking to learn from a class or a lesson, including the teacher. Freedom is important in learning. Learners should be able to choose the content, leaders, time, and place of a program of learning. Too much freedom can be destructive if not equally shared across all participants. Goals are vital. Realistic, specific goals should help shape learning (SMART). Learning how to learn is helpful. Metacognition is one of the most important trainings that can take place. Needs must be considered. Both the learner and the organization sponsoring training have needs that need to be aligned. Problem-centered learning is basic. Adults understand a need to learn something if they can see a problem it helps solve. Resources should be appropriate. Technology, format of content, and other appropriate equipment should be utilized. A programming cycle should be a cooperative experience. Participants should help in the planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating of an educational program.
Blaschke, L.M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 13(1).
Self-directed and self-determined learning is becoming more important for our increasingly complex world. Distance education is especially suited to this self-directed learning in the way of heutagogy. The article begins with andragogy as the basis for showing the need to help learners become self-directed. They need to learn to diagnose their own needs, set goals, identify appropriate resources and strategies, and evaluate learning outcomes. The educator is a mentor. With heutagogy, the processes are similar, but learners take an even greater role. Double loop learning is a key strategy, where learners not only determine how their actions solve a problem but also how the problem solving process influences the learner’s beliefs. Learners become both capable and competent. Due to the technologies we have available to us, the experience and maturity of adult students, and the built-in autonomy of distance education environment, heutagogy seems a natural fit. Social media technologies support education going mobile and generating their own content. Heutagogy certainly causes concerns when it comes to accreditation, but some higher educaiotn institutions have found success handing over more control to students. Aspects of a heutagogical learning environment include learner defined learning contracts, flexible curriculum, learner-directed questions, flexible assessment, and a holistic approach to being a lifelong learner.
Christensen, C.M. & Eyring, H.J. (2011). Change and the indispensable university. In The Innovative University. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
There is great demand for higher education, but also great need for change. Higher education has grown in the past due to innovation, and it needs that again. Decreasing prices and better service to students are some of the keys, in addition to continuing to support traditional research roles. By growing what it means to be a university, rising tides lift all ships, everyone can win. Schools should be ranked based on their outputs, not their inputs, so traditional ranking systems will (or should) become relics of the past. Schools with different missions shouldn’t compete against each other but for their own definition of success.
Dewey, J. 1998. Experience and education. (60th anniversary ed.) West Lafayette, IN: Kappa Delta Pi.
Different schools of thought exist around what education is – a natural growth of one’s self or a change pushed at someone from the outside. While genuine education may come from experience, that does not mean all experience are educational. Every experience we have modifies us and affects the quality of subsequent experiences (good or bad). Factors of both the internal thoughts of the learner and the objective goals of the teacher need to be considered. Traditional educators create a place for students to learn without considering the background of learners; just because a condition is effective for one group at one time does not mean it will work again. Education can be used to improve desires and impulses, but that should be done by helping the individual reflect and make self-judgment rather than impose judgment from the outside.
Freire, P. (1970). Chapter 2. In Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
The banking model of education consists of the teacher expounding to and filling up passive students with detached words. As empty receptacles, they lose their natural creativity. The solution to this problematic approach to oppressing learners is to transform the educational structure to allow students to be themselves. Rather than wait and hope that students will break the mold on their own, it is the calling of the revolutionary educator to help students become partners in their education. Problems to be solved liberate the students. Teachers learn and students teach in the new liberated model.
Gagne, R.M., Wager, W.W., Golas, K.C., & Keller, J.M. (2005). The Learner. In Principles of Instructional Design (5th Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Learners have many of the same characteristics, but vary in their abilities for each characteristic. That is, if all the students can read, perhaps one reads well and another poorly. Students can learn intellectual skills or procedures, cognitive strategies or productions, verbal information or facts, attitudes, and motor skills. Learning the above is affected by factors of motivation (ARCS), developmental and social factors, and individual differences. The ability to process concepts to build schemas and store in memory is one that differs from learner to learner.
Gibbings, P., Lidstone, J., & Bruce, C. (2010). How do student attributes influence the way students experience problem-based learning in virtual space? Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 16(1), 69–80.
Study of engineering students in a PBL engineering course found that students expected the class to help them learn as they started the class, and that after the PBL class, students found that a PBL course really did help them learn better how to learn.
Isenberg, S. (2007). Background. In Applying andragogical princples to internet learning. Youngstown, New York: Cambria Press.
There is a lot of talk about andragogy and about the Internet, but little about both together. The Socratic method promotes probing questions from the learner and self-assessment to help the student construct knowledge. The field of mass communication has shown that diffusion of knowledge needs to happen systematically, with clear scaffolding. The Internet allows for enhanced systematic diffusion of knowledge. The Internet allows for customized curriculum for each learner, both helping the learner with the content and with his or her own metacognition. The whole-part-whole model can be facilitated online, by showing worked examples, helping the learner practice the parts, and then practice all the skills in one immersive case. Preassessments can automatically guide students to areas where they are deficient. Self-learning does not have to be alone learning. Virtual groups can be provided to allow for important interactions with peers while still being self-paced. Internet learning requires learners and teachers to be engaged and needs to be made easier to use.
Kenyon, C., & Hase, S. (2001). Moving from andragogy to heutagogy in vocational education. Retrieved April 2, 2013 from http://www.avetra.org.au/abstracts_and_papers_2001/Hase-Kenyon_full.pdf
Traditional education is pedagogical, where the teacher is in control of everything. Andragogy improves educational methods but still has a student/teacher dichotomy to deal with. Heutagogy provides a movement even further in self-directed learning. The key is a holistic approach to build independent capability. Heutagogy is most effective in a flexible environment, where resources are provided without too much direction as to the specific content that needs to be studied. The ideal learning environment challenges learners to ask deep questions without getting in the way too much.
Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2011). A theory of adult learning: Andragogy. In The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
The most famous teachers in history worked with adults, not children. They used processes of mental inquiry rather than passive reception of transmissions. Learners delved into cases and dialogue. They challenged and confronted and defended. Proponents of traditional pedagogical methods will claim that adults are uninterested in learning; if they were interested they would make it happen. Of course, the key is to engage adults and make them aware of the learning they have available to them. Adults are motivated by satisfying needs, centered around their life, have much experience, work best when self-directed, and have unique needs.
Kopcha, T. J., & Sullivan, H. (2008). Learner preferences and prior knowledge in learner-controlled computer-based instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 56(3), 265-286.
Studies have shown that giving students control over their learning motivates them. Computer-based instruction is an effective method for maximizing learner control. In the study, students were given a computer based instruction program for teaching math, with varying levels of control over the program. Students were broken out by preference for control and prior knowledge. They found that when students had high prior knowledge, they preferred having control over their learning, while students with low prior knowledge preferred high teacher control. This may be because lower performing students simply want to get through the course quickly or are not confident in their abilities, but preference for control had no significant interaction.
Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.
Merrill’s model builds on many existing instructional design models. The key principles are that learning should deal with real-world problems, activate prior knowledge, demonstrate new knowledge, and apply and integrate new learning. Problems should become progressively more complex. Both examples and non-examples should be demonstrated, and relevant media should be used. Coaching should be gradually withdrawn as the learner’s ability ramps up.
Tomei, L.A. (2010). A theoretical model for designing online education in support of lifelong learning. In Online Learning and Adult Education. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Web-based courses increase the potential for students to collaborate and share information with others, potentially leading to higher order skills. The traditional ADDIE model has stood over time as a solid yet generic process for designing instruction in a straight forward way. Wiggins & McTighe’s Backwards Design model and others have refocused ADDIE to meet the needs of the educational environment. Behaviorists, cognitivists, and humanists each describe different theories about how we learn. Just as learning taxonomies, such as Bloom’s categorize the types of knowledge that can be learned, distance learners need a taxonomy of skills for dealing with technology: literacy, communication, decision-making, infusion, integration, and technology. Learning materials, whether print, video, data, or otherwise provide tools and technologies that may be swapped out with each other to meet learner preferences. Adult learners prefer collaborative and realistic learning experiences. Distance education students use various synchronous and asynchronous tools to help them achieve a similar collaborative environment. Adults may be assessed by having them build higher order responses on Bloom’s taxonomy, while built-in analytics in various forms can help the learning environment assess the student with his or her input.
Weigel, M., James, C., Gardner, H. (2009). Learning: Peering backward and looking forward in the digital era. International Journal of Learning and Media 1(1).
While methods of education have changed greatly over the past decades or even centuries, the need for relevance has never been so important. Current youth use digital technologies extensively, yet understand little about how they work or how to create the technology. The rate of change with new technology means that even once they get a technology down, it won’t stay around that way for very long. Constructivism, with its increased engagement and investment of the learner and decreased control of the teacher, modern learning theories fit the Internet’s potential for deep exploration. But for that to happen, they need to have solid skills to navigate the technology, including the underlying biases and structures that affect its use. The number and vast difference in quality of resources found online serve to make the process difficult for the non-information-literate student. The social aspect, which allows for back channel communication and instant sharing of ideas serve to add to the crowdsourcing culture, which helps construct new knowledge effectively with a risk of drowning out dissent. Moderate changes to schooling have changed little about how students learn, but the technologies now available, in combination with the accepted learning theories such as andragogy are pushing towards a radical shift in education.