Designing Distance Education for Adult Learners 3
Adult learners cannot be defined within a specific model or betaught with a specific strategy. This is not very different from “traditional”learners or K-12 learners. There are always different needs that are to betaken into consideration and approached on a student-by-student basis.Adult learners will have different challenges, as Brookfield notes there aremany external variables that adult learners will have that “traditional”students generally don’t. When designing a D.E. course for adult learnerswe must keep in mind the challenges an adult learner will have. An adultlearner generally has a career that they are trying to develop andadvance. They have family and community responsibilities that continueto exist whether they are studying or not. Their studies will be importantto them, but their number one priority may not be the course they aretaking. They will work hard and be very motivated to succeed. This willalso mean that they will want to accomplish the tasks and not beburdened by extra work that they do not see as relevant. The adultstudent will have external factors to deal with that traditional studentswould not have or face.
Adults and Distance Education:The Challenges
Adult learners taking on the task of learning from a distance ordistance education have to be able to make the adjustments neededfor success. When looking at Adult Learners in the D.E. lens Simonson,et al. states, “While there are some who would suggest little differenceamong the distance learners, adults bring a unique characteristic to adistance learning setting. Theirs is a world of experiences related tolearning, life, and their profession. To believe that adults bring little tothe “classroom” is limiting the contributions that adult learners canmake to any learning situation.” (2006, p. 158). Adult learners bring adifferent kind of learning to a course or program. They have a depth of experiences that are not present in the “traditional” student. The adultlearner sees things through a different lens and each student will havea different level of experiences to draw on. An adult learner may bevery experienced in the field of study, be starting a new career or justwanting to have a new experience. They have a very wide variety of backgrounds and understanding of how the world works.In the research study
Adult learners’ Emotions in OnlineLearning,
Michalinos Zembylas speaking about learners’ owninterpretations states, “…first, learners act upon the world on the basisof the meanings that the world has for them. Second, the learners’meanings are socially constructed through their interactions with theirinstructor, other learners, the available technology, and the socialcontext in general. Third, the meaning of the world is processed againthrough interpretation; that is, the learners interpret their emotionsthrough the ways they talk about them.” (2008, p. 75). Adult D.E.