Maximize the eLearning Experience for Adult Learners

adultlearnerDisseminating information among adults via elearning is dramatically different from the formal education we all grow up with. In school, the teacher is the authority figure and has almost total control. But in an elearning environment, the learner has a lot of control. Therefore effective learning must help motivate adults to learn, empower them to control the pace of their learning, enable them to interact with the program, and provide instructional feedback.

Here are four things to keep in mind when developing elearning for adult learners.


One of the most critical components of Adult Learning Theory is that adult learners must be motivated to learn. Therefore, they need to believe that the elearning will provide some practical value. Effective elearning must explain how the program will benefit them and it must present the content in a way that respects the learner. It also helps if the elearning is visually appealing. Remember, if adults are not motivated to learn, they won’t.

Provide Some Level of Control

Not everyone learns at the same pace or even learns with the same learning style. Therefore, the elearning curriculum must allow the learner to progress through the content at their own pace and even allow them to take different paths where appropriate. It should also allow them to return to previous parts of the course if desired. Adults who are not provided this level of control can become frustrated and mentally shut down. Make sure your elearning programs allow for some movement or variation within elearning modules for optimal absorption of the material.

Include Interactions

Interactive learning exercises require learners to actively participate in the program, thereby requiring their full attention. Interaction significantly increases comprehension and retention while also helping keep learners engaged in the elearning. Learning exercises can also convey complex concepts, provide experiential learning opportunities, and help learners understand key concepts.

Provide Feedback

In any training environment, feedback is crucial. It verifies that learners understand the content and provides instructional guidance in situations where they have not yet mastered it. Providing feedback during an instructor-led training program is pretty straight forward because the instructor can respond as needed. But in an elearning environment, the designer must develop assessments that will accurately measure the learner’s understanding and also anticipate the instructional feedback that will be needed. Remember that all learners can benefit from positive reinforcement and constructive feedback. A wrong answer doesn’t have to mean failure – it can be part of the learning experience and push the learner to do better.

When developing elearning, remember that adult learners are different than younger students and therefore require some specialized approaches. Take the above tips into consideration when designing your employee training or elearning for any adults.

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