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The e-learning key to adult training

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Online learning sounds like an obvious option for employees in any company, but motivation is key, writes KIRSTY CHADWICK, founder and chair of The Training Room Online.

Staff training plays a pivotal role in the success of any organisation that hopes to succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing world in which we live. In order for learners to really absorb and retain information, they need to be motivated to learn, which is often easier said than done. Delivering training to adults can be somewhat of a challenge, particularly when it comes to things like office procedures or safety regulations.

Malcolm Knowles, an American practitioner and theorist of adult education, defined andragogy as “the art and science of helping adults learn””. Let’s have a look at a few ways in which we can encourage and enhance the adult learning process.

1.tMotivation

Adults are more likely to digest data when they know exactly why they are required to know this information. Explaining how it would benefit them and the organisation is likely to get them more riled up and excited to complete the training.

2.tRespect Experience

Adults bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with them, so before sending them off on longwinded training sessions, first assess their prior knowledge and expertise in the area. Once prior learning has been evaluated, training can take place to fill the gaps.

3.tSelf-directed

Adults have the need to be self-directed. When they feel as though they are facilitating their learning experience, they are more likely to feel motivated and to push themselves in order to attain a higher average.

4.tInteractivity

In order for effective learning to take place, adults need to participate in the learning process, rather than just sitting on the side-lines and listening to long, monotonous lectures. It is important to create an environment in which everybody feels comfortable enough to participate.

There is a big difference between the ability to learn and the desire to learn, but getting people to fully engage with coursework can often boil down to presentation. Adults, just like kids, are drawn to bright colours and pictures. No one finds it exciting to read reams of black and white words on a page: you have to make learning fun and enjoyable.

E-learning has evolved from its inception as a fairly boring system of presenting information, into a vibrant and accessible tool. These e-learning modules are carefully planned so that the most effective method of presenting the material can be used. Lessons are now presented using combinations of animations, video and interactive worksheets.

Designers are used to graphically present concepts which replace paragraphs of difficult text and animators create moving images to guide the learner visually and dynamically through concepts or to virtually display how something works and moves.

Game designers use game thinking and game dynamics in order to engage audiences and solve problems, the learner then starts having fun while learning. All these tools combined, make e-learning a fun teaching tool, and the most effective one that we have at our disposal for staff development. E-learning changes the way in which we learn, teach, develop and manage.

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