Running head: ISSUES RELATED TO TEACHING ADULTS USING TECHNOLOGY
Issues Related to Teaching Adults Using Technology
Where adult learning occurs 4
Adult learning opportunities 5
How adults participate in learning ...5
The purpose of activities in adult learning ..6
How the teacher can utilize good teacher qualities .6
Why adults feel the need to learn more ...7
The use of technology ..7
In todays society, there are more adults that are better educated than in the past. Therefore, there are many more adults that seek learning opportunities. There are many adults who fear furthering their education for a number of reasons. They feel that they do not need to learn more than necessary for their career or they believe that they are too old to continue with their education. Some adults might even fear going back to school because of the advances in technology. This is a topic that is taught in school now to our youth. Adults might fear that they will be too far behind when it comes to their knowledge of computers.
Technology has a large impact on the economy. Almost everything is done with technology nowadays. If you do not know how to use a computer, you will be lost. Adults are finding out that they must further their education past their formal education in order to function at work, at home, and in the community they live in. Many schools are going to online courses to make it even easier for the adult to find time to further their education. Every person should know at least a little bit of technology because I believe that is what the future will be focused around.
Where adult learning occurs
Adults are self-directed learners; they need to be free to direct themselves. Most adults learn new things everyday whether it is at work, school, or home. For this reason facilitators involve adult participants in the learning process and serve as a source to them. Facilitators must get the participants aspect about what topics to cover and then let them work on projects that intrigue them. They should let the participants accept responsibility for presentations and group leadership. They also need to be aware not to step over the line by giving details instead of being a facilitator. Finally, they need to show the participants how learning can help them reach their own successes (Lieb, 1991).
Adults are practical; they will focus on the parts of a lesson that relates to their career (Lieb, 1991). Instructors must help participants see how the lesson will be useful to them at work. The facilitator can make an impression on the adults learning if they allow them to voice their opinions. Allowing adults to do activities that concentrate on a part of their life will help them feel more knowledgeable in the subject and feel like an equal to the facilitator.
Environments that emphasize the self-concepts of adults, that are supportive of change, and that value the character of the learner will produce the largest amount of learning (Brookfield, 1986). Adults are more excited in areas that are relevant to their social roles and crises. Most adults generally learn best in an atmosphere that is nonthreatening and supportive of experimentation and where different learning styles are allowed (Brookfield, 1986).
Learning can occur in so many different ways for people. It all depends on where the person chooses to learn. Adults can learn at church, in a hospital, at an institution, or even in the military (Merriam, 1999). There are adults that do not further their education in school but they do learn just by watching a simple television program. There are so many programs out there that are informational. Anybody can learn something new from watching television. The possibilities to learn more are endless.
Adult learning opportunities
In todays society, there are many opportunities for adults to learn. Many adults seek out learning experiences in order to deal with life-changing events such as: (1.) Marriage, (2.) Divorce, (3.) A new job, (4.) A promotion, (5.) Being fired, (6.) Retiring, or (7.) Losing a loved one (Zemke, 1984, para. 1). The more life-changing events an adult deals copes with, the more he or she looks for opportunities to learn. Stress increases with the accumulation of life-changing events just as the motivation to cope with the stress leads the adult to engage in learning experiences (Zemke, 1984). Most adults are willing to join in learning experiences before, during, and after these life-changing events. They believe that learning will help them deal with the transition.
Adults need to test their learning as they go along, rather than be given background information. Adults have a need for control, a need for relevance, and a need for involvement in the learning experience (Boulmetis, 1999). The general approach to learning serves learners interests in developing their own goals (Korhonen, 2004).
How adults participate in learning
Only 39 percent of adults surveyed in 2003 had recently been involved in any type of learning (Widening adult participation, 2004). According to Valentine in 1997, 17-24 year olds who are single would be the most likely participants in furthering their education (Merriam, 1999). It is also important to know who is the least likely to participate and those would be adults whose age ranges from 55-64 and married people. Also those who are employed are more likely to go back to school than those whom are retired. Adults become very nervous about being back in a classroom, they have low self-esteem, they have a lack of trust in the institution, or they think they are too old to be back in school.
Learning is a personal process for adults. When an adult feels the need to learn and when they have a sense of obligation for what, why, and how they learn, they learn the best (Brookfield, 1986). If the adult has a meaningful relationship to a past experience, they participate easier when the subject deals with the past experience. All it takes is one scenario that they can relate to and learning is so much easier for many adults.
The purpose of activities in adult learning
According to A.B. Knox, adults tend to underestimate their abilities and, by overemphasizing school experience and interests, often perform below their capacity (Brookfield, 1986, p. 27). Many activities in adult learning are done to help adults build their confidence. Adults are given new tasks that are somehow related to their past experiences. A.B. Knox states that short-term memory held stable until late adulthood and that long-term memory apparently improved with age (Brookfield, 1986, p. 28).
Many traditional instructional approaches respond ineffectively to the direction of students lives today (Weimer, 2003). This is when activities need to focus on the students life situations in order for them to function in the modern world. Adults need to be active and committed in learning for the best outcome.
How the teacher can utilize good teacher qualities
Instructors take on the role of a facilitator rather than a lecturer. The role of the facilitator is to create activities that go along with a part of the adults life that is consoling to them. Facilitators are usually successful when they try different means of making information accessible. Institutions who utilize staff members whose backgrounds emulate the experiences of a target group of learners also tend to get through to the adult learners more competently. Adults learn more from facilitators who are friendly, act as equals, and are open to change.
Being a teacher myself, I know that many adults are very skeptical when it comes down to them returning to school. It would be very scary for me to return if I was not sure what to expect. A facilitator needs to be prepared for this anxiety among adult students. They need to feel warm and welcome, not uncomfortable. This is a whole new world for most of them. A facilitator needs to be open to new ideas and try new methods to get the lesson across. Teaching to the adults not at them would be a great approach. Adults need to have the chance to feel like an equal to the professor, and know that they can get help whenever it is needed without feeling uncomfortable.
Why adults feel the need to learn more
Adults feel that they are out of the loop when it comes to technology. Children are learning great things with technology everyday in school and at home. My parents have no idea how anything works on a computer. My mother took a job as the secretary to the treasurer at a local school. She had to learn from scratch since she was never taught anything on the computer. That was not an easy task. She signed herself up for classes to learn what she needed to know for her job. That is just one example of why adults feel the need to further their education.
It used to be that what an adult learned during childhood was enough to get by as an adult (Merriam, 1999). Today if that is all that an adult knows, he or she is not very well educated. It is very important for adults to be better educated today so that they can survive in society. Knowing that they do not fit in is enough incentive to get many adults back into education.
The use of technology
Technology can help improve teaching and learning. Just because a school has technology does not mean that there will be better instructional outcomes. The benefits of technology is only reached if the school has the computer hardware necessary to learn and if the facilitators support technology-based learning. Some teachers take it hard when they hear that technology helps the way they teach and the way their students learn. Technology is the next generation to learning.
Boulmetis, J. (1999). Characteristics of adults as learners are not culturally defined. Adult
Learning, 11, (1), 2. Retrieved January 24, 2006, from EBSCO database.
Brookfield, S.D. (1986). Understanding and facilitating adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-
Korhonen, V. (2004). Contextual orientation patterns as describing adults personal approach to
learning in a web-based learning environment. Studies in Continuing Education, 26, (1),
99-116. Retrieved January 24, 2006, from EBSCO database.
Lieb, S. (1991). Principles of adult learning. Vision. Retrieved January 24, 2006, from
Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. (1999). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.
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Characteristics of adults as learners are not culturally defined, written by John Boulmetis was a very interesting article. In this article the author talks about adults needing to be involved in the learning process in order to understand better. Our text talks about the many opportunities adults have to learn. They can learn at home watching television or even at church. This article related to our text because the adults are getting involved in learning activities.
Contextual orientation patterns as describing adults personal approach to learning in a web-based learning environment, written by Vesa Korhonen was an excellent article. Vesa talked about teaching adults how to learn goals through a general approach in teaching. She believed that showing adults how to reach their own goals interested them. In our text the author asks the question do they really want to learn this? This article answers that question. If the learning were something that will help them reach their own goals, then they would love to learn it.
Principles of adult learning, written by Stephen Lieb was an exceptional article. Stephen also talked about how facilitators need to base their activities around subjects that the students could relate to. He believed that learning occurs at many places such as home, work, and school. Our text agrees with beliefs. Stephen knew that if a facilitator showed the students how the activities they were doing in school related to their own career, more would be learned.
Focus on learning, transform teaching was written by Maryellen Weimer. This author also talks about relating activities to real life situations. She thought that students should work on activities that they could see their own life reflecting in the activity. Just as in our text, having students actively engaged in learning helps them learn more.
Widening adult participation: Overcoming barriers to adult learning did not have an author listed. As you can see I did get a lot of information from this article. It was a wonderful information tool for this paper. This article gave statistics showing how many adults actually participated in furthering their education. In our text the author tells us who are the most and least likely candidates for furthering their education. This article also gave many reasons why adults do not want to further their education. It really was a great article.
Ron and Susan Zemke wrote 30 Things we know for sure about adult learning. This couple listed reasons, which are life-changing events, for why adults do not go back to school. They believed strongly that stress is so difficult to cope with that people bury themselves in learning to help cope with the situation at hand. Learning experiences can help keep anybodies mind off problems according to the authors.