Ways to encourage adult learning
The school year is coming to an end, and high school seniors across the country are celebrating graduation. Some are going to college or university, others are entering the workforce. But all of them are relieved to be done with school. Finally.
What they don’t know is that in a lot of ways, their learning is just beginning. As adults, we become our own teachers. We choose what we learn as it’s relevant to our goals and ambitions. We learn to solve problems; we learn to get results. And if something isn’t interesting, we drop it.
This is very different from our experiences in school. For children, education is a “have to”. They have to take certain classes, learn certain subjects, and get passing grades. They have to listen to their teachers who give assignments and projects. They don’t necessarily know what they’re going to get from attending school, they just know they have to go.
Unfortunately, lots of times we still try to implement adult learning as we would for children. We try to make courses mandatory, and we try to give tests and get results. Then we wonder why it fails.
To encourage a learning environment in adults, it helps to understand what motivates them. Adults are:
- Problem-centered. Adults seek education to solve problems and to help them meet their life goals.
- Results-oriented. Adults enroll in education looking for specific results. If these results are not met, they drop out because participation is voluntary.
- Self-directed. Adults seek education on their own, they are not dependent on others for direction (i.e. schoolchildren and their dependency on teachers).
- Skeptical: Adults like to try new information out before accepting it.
- Immediate: Adults look for education that is timely and relevant to their lives, and that applies directly to their perceived needs.
- Responsible: Adults like to take ownership of their learning, as long as the learning meets their requirements.
So what should you do? Two places to start:
- Give them the wheel. Provide resources so they’re available when they need to learn something. This meets the need to be self-directed, and to take ownership in their learning. The key is to make sure they know about the resources when they need them.
- Give them quality resources. Adults want answers to their questions, they want resources that are easy to use, and they want to be able to apply them to their lives right away. This requires materials that are short, easy to use, self-paced, and relevant.
If you’re looking for resources that adults will like, browse our web site. We’ll set you up with some training that’s tried and true.
Word of mouth still the best kind of social…for now
Social giant Facebook went public on Friday, and its successful IPO is a testament to the rise of social enterprise on the Internet.
The exciting thing is that this is only the beginning; the social movement will continue to evolve. It has to, because there is a lot to improve on. Real life is still leaps and bounds better than the social options available now.
Here’s an example: It was Wednesday morning at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, and my co-workers and I entered the hotel’s breakfast buffet. It was very quiet, with only 2 or 3 of us milling about. A cheerful voice said, “Good morning! Would you like an omelet and a waffle?” We turned to see a woman with radiant smile standing at the griddle. Of course we all said yes. It was a great start to the day, and we were all heartened by her hospitality.
The waffles were even Mickey Mouse shaped. Who could say no?
I saw this same scenario play out with each person that came into the buffet. Even the morning’s keynote speaker, John Maeda, strolled out of the buffet with waffle and omelet in hand.
Later on, as Mr. Maeda gave an excellent keynote presentation, he recalled this breakfast experience. He said that the woman at the counter went out of her way to make him feel welcome in a place that often feels intimidating. As a result he had a waffle and omelet breakfast, a rarity for him. Everyone in the audience could sense how much he appreciated her hospitality and enjoyed his breakfast that day.
The next morning, breakfast was completely changed. The buffet was a busy hive of people getting their breakfast, and a line several people deep waited for omelets and waffles. But the real draw was the woman’s hospitality. She took it all in stride, sharing her radiant smile and friendly welcome with everyone.
Was it coincidence? I don’t think so. Mr. Maeda’s respected opinion influenced many people to get an awesome breakfast. They were convinced by his enthusiasm, and were already making the plans for waffles and omelets the next day. It was a real-life example of the power of word of mouth.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what if Mr. Maeda had shared his experience on Facebook or Twitter instead of talking about it during his presentation? Would the response have been nearly as robust? Perhaps it would have reached some in the audience, but probably not as many. And even so, would they have felt his sincerity and excitement? Would they have been as persuaded to try it out for themselves?
To be sure, we are on a path of no return; social is here to stay, and I think that’s good. But it’s exciting to think of the possibilities for its evolution in the future; the possibility that one day a tweet really will be as good as word of mouth.
Learning and video games: a perfect pair
Video game learning. Is it a serious form of teaching, or is it just a game? Is it worth the time and energy necessary to develop games that are fun and instructive? Many would argue that it is. Our resident programmer extraordinaire, Ryan Hutchcroft, is one of them. He wrote this story to illustrate the untapped potential of video games. Enjoy! (MP)
As I played video games with my son the other day, my mind flashed back to 4th grade math class. I was pretty good at math when it held my attention, but most of the time I found it boring and I would spend most of class daydreaming. I remember finding most math concepts interesting, but I think the way it was taught just didn’t suit my learning style. When math was applied to something, I enjoyed it. When it was a sheet of equations, my eyes glazed over.
In my memory, I was looking out the window, daydreaming as usual, when my math teacher, Mrs. Hanna, announced that she was going to try something new in class that day. She left the room momentarily and came back in wheeling a big cart with a machine on it.
At first I thought we were going to watch a film. Films in school were the best, even if they were always supposed to teach us something. But as Mrs. Hanna rolled the cart to the front of the room, I realized this was no film projector. It looked more like a giant version of the Nintendo I got for Christmas.
Suddenly, the front of my desk made a weird noise and something started coming up and out of it. It was a TV. I looked around and all the other kids had TVs coming out of their desks too. Then I noticed that Mrs. Hanna had asked Sarah, the girl who sat in front of me, to hand something out to the class. Sarah walked by my desk carrying a big box and handed me a gray and black controller with two red buttons. It was a Nintendo!
“Now class,” Mrs. Hannah announced. “Today we will be trying a new method of learning. I’m sure most of you are familiar with how to use a Nintendo, but if you have any questions, please raise your hand and I’ll come by and help. You may begin your lessons now.”
My TV screen had a message on it. “PRESS START TO BEGIN,” it read. I pressed the start button and my game loaded. After a few intro screens I was playing a game that looked a lot like my favorite Nintendo game, The Legend of Zelda. I was controlling a little guy in green, moving him around from screen to screen, when I came upon one of those round, red, spiky guys who would shoot fire out of their noses. I went to slash him with my sword when suddenly the screen changed. I was in a mode of the game I had never seen before. My character was on one side of the screen, the red, spiky guy on the other, and a math equation was between them.
“SOLVE THE PROBLEM TO DEFEAT THE ENEMY” read the message above the math equation. It was an easy multiplication problem, one that I remembered how to solve from the few times I had actually paid attention in math class. I solved the problem and easily defeated the enemy. I was rewarded with a green gem. “This is pretty fun,” I thought to myself.
My game changed back to the regular screen and there were other enemies to fight. I challenged one of them, but this time the math problem was one I didn’t know how to solve. I thought for a while and then guessed. I got it wrong! My game character made a noise and I saw one of the three hearts on my health meter disappear. Then a message appeared on the screen. “PRESS START TO VISIT THE WIZARD AND LEARN TO DEFEAT THIS ENEMY.”
I pressed start and was introduced to a bearded guy in a blue wizard hat. He went through a lesson on how to solve the equation I had been confronted with in my last battle. The wizard showed me the best way to attack different types of math problems and he even gave me a few problems for practice as I sparred with him. After a while I was ready to go back and fight the enemy who had defeated me.
This went on for quite a while. I fought and defeated many enemies until I didn’t know how to solve the math problems, then I would visit the wizard and learn more. After a while I had earned enough experience points to go to the next level and gained another heart on my health meter. I even found a treasure chest and opened it by solving one of the hardest equations I’d ever solved. Inside, I found a boomerang.
With my new boomerang, I opened a secret door that revealed a hidden dungeon. I battled my way through the dungeon until I faced the final boss enemy at the end. The equations I had to solve to defeat the boss were too difficult for me; I lost all of the hearts on my health meter and my character died. “GAME OVER”.
At that point, I was presented with a menu to enter my name and found that I had the 2nd highest score. I looked at the other names on the list and saw that they were all kids in my class. My friend Tom had the high score and I knew he would be bragging about it, so I started a new game and went right back to the wizard to learn as much as I could and get that top score.
I was so focused on the video game that I didn’t notice someone was calling my name. “Ryan, would please stop looking out the window and come up to the board and solve this equation? Ryan!” Mrs. Hanna was talking to me. Everyone was looking at me. The class was back to normal. There were no TVs on the front of the desks. Instead of Nintendo controllers, the other kids had pencils and papers out, their books open on their desks. There was no giant Nintendo in the front of the room. I had been daydreaming the whole time. I was back in the real world, learning math the boring way.
Looking back on that daydream I had in 4th grade math class, I can’t help but wonder what school could have been like if, instead of a boring lecture and a sheet full of equations to solve, I actually was allowed to play a video game in order to learn math. Like the educational films I watched in school, video games could have been an alternative teaching method, one that might have held the attention of someone whose learning style didn’t fit the traditional classroom. My hope is that with all the new technology being used in classrooms today, maybe this generation’s daydreamers will find technology that teaches to their learning style.
The impact of effective training
My family gatherings have always been a relaxing day of catching up with news and recalling the past, while eating as much as your stomach can handle. At our most recent gathering, I ate plenty and picked up more than just news about our local sports teams—I realized the impact of meaningful training.
A few weeks prior to our gathering, I received the exiting news that I became uncle to Kaden. (Yes, I feel I’m really getting old now.) Of course, one of the big topics of conversation was the new addition to the family. Unfortunately, Kaden’s family lives 1500 miles away, so we depend on e-mail for a lot of updates. My grandmother started asking questions about how to access e-mail, how to view pictures, how to write back; all basic tasks that most of us just take for granted. At first, I wondered if she was serious. Then I recalled a few CustomGuide customers who provide our training to the retirement communities they operate; and here the very same scenario had unfolded in my own family.
After a brief walk though of some of the tasks and step by step guides, my grandmother felt she had all the power she needed to compete with the iGeneration because she had acquired the knowledge and skills she had wanted so badly. I’m happy to report much more learning took place and she has become one savvy 80 year old. Even the geek squad would be impressed. Well, maybe that’s stretching it a little, but I’m proud of her progress.
It occurred to me that the positive impact of training would be the same in a corporate setting. For example, someone putting together a large corporate project would desperately need to know how to use pivot tables in order to present and analyze their data. I’m proud of the fact that we have the training to empower people to learn the skills they need, whether it’s a grandma wanting to see her grandchild, or an employee wanting to climb the corporate ladder.
Understanding the growing demand and need for new training programs is all very exciting to us here at CustomGuide as we build and grow for the future. Taking another look at baby Kaden is a priceless value for someone like my grandmother and it shows that new found skills whether large or small can make a significant impact, no matter who the user is!
Matt is a member of our sales team at CustomGuide. He also hosts our daily webinars; register for one today!