Adult Learning in a Digital Age: Effective Use of Technologies for Adult Learners

Adult Learning in a Digital Age: Effective Use of Technologies for Adult Learners

Krista Steinke (Florida Atlantic University, USA) and Valerie C. Bryan (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch045


This chapter argues that the technology implemented for teaching and learning in the higher education setting should serve a specific set of purposes in order to increase student engagement and to maximize learning outcomes. The practice of using technology alone to increase student engagement is ineffective. Before deciding which tools to implement, faculty need to first consider how the technology will meet the needs of the students. The same is true at higher levels of organizations. Before requiring faculty to implement technologies across a school, administrators should research the effectiveness of the technologies, specifically to determine whether the technology will increase student achievement and have an overall positive impact on the organization. Time is perhaps the most important factor in this scenario. Leaders must weigh the pros and cons of using time, a valuable resource, to teach new technologies to faculty, and, further down the line, for faculty to teach to students. In short, it is not effective to implement a new technology simply because we can.
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The literature indicates that there are a number of barriers creating difficulties in effective implementation of technology. These barriers can be attributed to a number of elements at work in organizations. The learning curve required to master a skill, faculty perceptions and resistance, and information overload all contribute to the difficulties in implementing technologies effectively. Additionally, many organizations continue to use technologies that have not been proven effective, resulting in wasted time and resources. Institutional barriers are also at play, and often prevent promising changes from being implemented.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Various form of technology, such as computers, digital forms of communication, educational and social tools that enable communication and collaboration among users.

Information Overload: Occurs when learners attempt to process several unrelated or highly technical images or information simultaneously. When specific concepts or technical information is involved, multi-image presentations should be used sparingly. Processing multiple audio and video in differing types and quantities with different sensory channels (such as sight, sound and touch) can also create information overload.

Digital Native: Persons born between the late 1970’s/ early 1990’s known also as the Net Generation, Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, but can also include people born in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s known as Generation Z, and is proficient in ICT and many different forms of technology.

ICT Fluency: ICT fluency is having a high level of proficiency and understanding in the concepts of Information and Communication Technologies.

Multimedia: Multimedia is the combination of multiple forms of media and content such as interactive videos that may include audio, graphics, text, animation, simulations or demonstrations.

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