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Designing Engaging Online Learning for Adults

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This webinar delivered the key principles of online learning and provided best practice examples for course development and design. Intended for educators, trainers and subject matter experts who are …

This webinar delivered the key principles of online learning and provided best practice examples for course development and design. Intended for educators, trainers and subject matter experts who are developing online learning programs and courses.

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  • My name is Jim Yupangco, VP of Customer Experience at Lambda Solutions, and I will be your presenter today
  • Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, adapting W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. The film stars Kevin Costner,Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in his final motion picture.Field of Dreams was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.Just because we build it, they will come….or they will learn. A lot of thought comes into designing online courses especially for adults; it is more than just converting powerpoint slides to a Flash, then add a quiz or a test….and call it an adult online course; yes it is accessible by adults, but is it effective….is it engaging?
  • Referred to as didactic, traditional, or teacher-directed approachPedagogy is derived from the Greek word "paid," meaning child plus "agogos," meaning leading. Thus, pedagogy has been defined as the art and science of teaching children. In the pedagogical model, the teacher has full responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if the material has been learned. Pedagogy, or teacher-directed instruction as it is commonly known, places the student in a submissive role requiring obedience to the teacher's instructions. It is based on the assumption that learners need to know only what the teacher teaches them. The result is a teaching and learning situation that actively promotes dependency on the instructor (Knowles, 1984).
  • Pedagogic approach is not supportive of learning differences between learnersIgnore individual learning differences between studentsClassrooms environments tend to group students together in large number often making it difficult for instructors to isolate learning deficiencies and provide the necessary close attention that individuals may need to learn. Online classes allow for a more individual perspective from the professors standpoint due to most of the communication being easily handled through email and chat.
  • Malcolm Knowles and others theorized that methods used to teach children are often not the most effective means of teaching adults. In The Modern Practice of Adult Education (1970), Knowles defined andragogy as "an emerging technology for adult learning."
  • When we design online learning courses we need to move from pedagogy to andragogy….Depending on the level of interaction in the classroom setting, shy students may be allowed to attend classes without providing alternative ways to communicate ideas. Forcing students to learn by vocal exchange with a professor may limit their ability to learn.Diagram of Learning Pyramid according to David Sousa’s book, How the Brain Learns (2006). While the veracity of this model remains debatable, it represents a fundamental truth recognized by many instructors/teachers: active forms of learning are better than passive ones.According to the model proposed by Sousa the retention rate of traditional passive modes of instruction are: Lecture 5% Reading 10% Audio-Visual – 20% Demonstration – 30%While Team & active forms of learner engagement yield better results discussion group – 50% Practice by Doing – 75% Teach others/Immediate Use – 90%
  • The description of adult learning concepts varies somewhat from author to author but there are many commonalities. Listed below are seven adult learning principles based on a combination of those given by Knowles (1990), Mitchell (1993), and Pike (1994). a. Adults need to know why they should learn something and must be ready to learn.b. An adult learner's experience is a valuable resource for additional learning.c. Adult learners tend to focus on life-centered, task-centered, or problem-centered learning activities.d. Adult learners learn best when they practice, perform and work with new knowledge, skills and attitudes.e. Adult learners learn easiest what they have some familiarity with.f. Adult learners favor different senses for learning.g. Adult learners like to be self-directing and see their own progress during a learning experience.
  • Knowles (1984, Appendix D) provides an example of applying andragogy principles to the design….1. There is a need to explain why specific things are being taught (e.g., certain commands, functions, operations, etc.)2. Instruction should be task-oriented instead of memorization -- learning activities should be in the context of common tasks to be performed.3. Instruction should take into account the wide range of different backgrounds of learners; learning materials and activities should allow for different levels/types of previous experience.4. Since adults are self-directed, instruction should allow learners to discover things for themselves, providing guidance and help when mistakes are made.(See computers for further discussion of this topic).http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html
  • This principle tells us that we need to provide a practical reason why the trainee should pay attention to the lesson. This reason must be stated at the beginning of the lesson, as part of the introduction, and relate the lesson content to their job; the introduction to lesson is the most important part of a lesson. As an instructor you need to set the stage for the entire lesson in the first five minute. Similarly, adults need to recognize that there is a gap between what they know and what they need to know. With recognition comes a readiness to fill that gap through a learning activity.
  • If trainees have some experience with the lesson topic, it is good to have them share these experiences with the rest of the group. Because these experiences may be different from your experience, both you and the other students learn something new. Rejecting an adult learner's experience is equivalent to rejecting the adult as a person. This sharing process also helps to establish a good learning environment and enhances the "readiness to learn" mentioned in the first principle.
  • This principle tells us that adults want get something practical from their training sessions. That is, they want to be able to take what they learn back to their job or their personal life and use it as soon as possible. This statement tells us that if concepts and principles are discussed, they should be followed by practical exercises or case studies that illustrate the concept or principle.
  • Repetition is the mother of studyRetention and understanding of new knowledge, skills and attitudes is best accomplished by using them over and over. There is a limit to the number of times something can be repeated during a lesson, but if a new ideas can be used and repeated through practical exercises or case studies, the probability of retention and understanding goes up.
  • This principle tells us that we should start with something familiar to the student and expand into new areas as the lesson progresses, eventually arriving at the objective of the lesson. The idea of building on established knowledge and skills is important. Lesson material must be sequenced properly to make this happen.
  • Studies have shown that some adults are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some are kinesthesic (or hands-on) learners, while other learn best through some combination of these. This fact means that an instructor should use a variety of delivery methods to ensure that all learners' optimum learning medium is used at some point during the lesson.
  • It would be nice to allow students to select the topics they would like to have in a course. This approach, however, is not practical in most cases. Nevertheless, instructors need to recognize and respect the learners' need for self-direction. In many cases, instructors become facilitators rather then teachers. They must also avoid "talking down" to students. Similarly, adult learners like to feel that they are learning something during a training session. This feeling can be achieved through exercises and short oral reviews intermingled throughout the lesson. These exercises and short quizzes challenge students and allow them to check their ability to understand the material. These type of activities also allow the instructor to see if students have gained some understanding of the
  • Research studies have suggested that the average adult can "listen with understanding" for approximately 90 minutes, and "listen with retention" for approximately 20 minutes. The length of the latter observation varies somewhat with the intelligence level of the individual. Generally, the lower the intelligence level, the shorter is the "listen with retention" period.Bob Pike (1994) suggests the 90/20/8 rule: "No module we teach ever runs more than ninety minutes, the pace is changed at least every twenty minutes, and we try to find a way to involve people in the content every eight minutes."Retention can also be increased with redundancy. The idea of overview, teach, and review, when built into a lesson's structure, helps students retain material longer. Pike (1994) cites a study that concludes that "if people were exposed to an idea one time, at the end of 30 days they retained less than 10 percent. But if they were exposed to an idea six times, with interval reinforcement, at the end of 30 days they retained more than 90 percent. Interval reinforcement means that an idea was presented once and then reviewed perhaps ten minutes later, an hour later, a day later, three days later, a week later, two weeks later, three week later."For a given lesson, the concept of "interval reinforcement" cannot be carried out to its fullest extent, but the overview, teach, review approach does provide some of this redundancy and should increase overall retention. If the material from one lesson can be reinforced or used in later lessons, all the better.


  • 1. Adult Online Learning Principles designing engaging interactive online learning for adults
  • 2. presenter Jim Yupangco VP, Customer Experience
  • 3. overview  about Lambda Solutions  pedagogy vs andragogy  limitations  process differences  from pedagogy to andragogy  principles of adult learning  applying the principles  attention span & retention
  • 4. about Lambda Solutions  working with Moodle since 2003  develop and contribute to the Moodle community  150+ Moodle installations hosted & supported  managed hosting, application support, custom development & integration
  • 5. our clients Government Healthcare Education Compliance Corporate
  • 6. if you build it… they will come
  • 7. pedagogy vis-a-vis androgogy pedagogy  “leading children”  teacher – defines what, how, when  student is passive  learner need has a “need to know” relationship  Promotes dependency
  • 8. limitations of pedagogic approach not supportive of differences in learning styles
  • 9. pedagogy vis-a-vis androgogy andragogy  introduced by Malcolm Knowles  “an emerging technology for adult learning”  science of helping adults learn  learner focused approach – emphasis on self-direction and personal responsibility
  • 10. process differences
  • 11. active passive from pedagogy to andragogy Lecture Reading Audio-Visual Demonstration Discussion Group Practice by Doing Teach others/Immediate Use 5% 10% 20% 30% 50% 75% 90% *Adapted from National Training Laboratories. Bethel, Maine
  • 12. principles of adult learning adult learners…  need to know why they should learn;  use experience as a resource;  focus on life-, task-, and problem-centered learning activities  learn best as they practice and work with new knowledge  learn best when it is familiar  prefer different senses for learning  self-directed and see their own progress
  • 13. applying the principles adult learners need to know why they should learn and be ready for it  state this at the beginning of the lesson and its relevance to their job  let them recognize the gap between what they know and what they need to know
  • 14. applying the principles adult learners need to use experience as a resource for additional learning  when appropriate, prompt learners to share experience relevant to the topic – becomes a learning opportunity  sharing process establishes a healthy learning environment and “readiness to learn”
  • 15. applying the principles adult learners focus on life-centered, task-centred or problem-centred activities  complement discussion concepts with case studies that illustrate them
  • 16. applying the principles adult learners learn best when they practice and work with new knowledge  “repetitio est mater studiorum”  use new ideas repeatedly through practical exercises & case studies
  • 17. applying the principles adult learners learn best when it is familiar  start lessons with something familiar to build on; expand as lesson progresses  sequence material properly
  • 18. applying the principles adult learners prefer different senses for learning  Use a variety of delivery methods to ensure learners’ learning style is supported during the lesson
  • 19. applying the principles adult learners self-directed and see their own progress  facilitate rather than dictate; avoid talking down to learners  provide opportunities for learners to assess their progress throughout the lesson
  • 20. attention span & retention
  • 21. attention span & retention 90/20/8  “no module ...ever runs more than ninety minutes, the pace is changed at least every twenty minutes, and we try to find a way to involve people in the content every eight minutes."  increase retention with redundancy
  • 22. upcoming webinars  Totara LMS for the Workplace  Thursday, September 26th, 11:00 am -12.00 pm Pacific  Fundamentals in Competency Training Wednesday, October 9th, 11:00 am -12.00 pm Pacific
  • 23. about this presentation For more information visit www.lambdasolutions.net