Enabling Adult Learning Advantage in Online Learning Environments

Enabling Adult Learning Advantage in Online Learning Environments

Michael D. Hamlin
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4516-4.ch008
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Adult learners tend to have specific educational goals, are more career-focused, task and intrinsically motivated, and more concerned about application of knowledge. Most adult learners are employed or attending school to advance their careers, so ideally, adult education should comprise educational activities, at least in part, focused on improving knowledge and skills relevant to the workplace. This requires a systematic and integrative approach that will guide students toward becoming reflective practitioners. Case-based education is an important tool that can provide the educational experiences that produce effective practitioners but only if its use is guided by a sound theoretical and research-based framework. This chapter will provide a framework for the design of case-based instruction that incorporates teaching and learning affordances derived from the theory of situated learning and cognition.
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Many if not most adult learners are employed and either looking for further educational credentials to help them to find new employment options or higher levels of employment in their current organization. As such, they can benefit from instruction that helps them develop professional practice skills, knowledge and behaviors. The learning sciences have developed several lines of research that provide useful concepts and theories to assist in designing instruction for professional practice skills and knowledge. Using situated learning theory as a foundation, this section will discuss how this learning perspective provides guidance for designing instruction that can produce learning advantages that assist in developing adult learners’ practice skills and knowledge.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Authentic Learning Activities: Online or in-class activities that mimic real-world issues or situations. In contextualized learning, these could be simulations, problem-based learning exercises or cases.

Apprenticeship: Traditional method of training people into a profession that has powerful features for learning. Researchers have identified effective learning and teaching techniques from apprenticeship learning and applied them to classroom learning.

Contextualization: Practical reasoning requires that the practitioner select the elements of professional knowledge most relevant to the given context.

Affordances: Features of the environment that suggest action. Elements in the learning environment that afford positive student progress.

Learning Management System: A computer-based, online program that supports the creation of online spaces that contain many of the basic features of a traditional classroom.

Situated Learning: What some have called the situative perspective views learning and cognition as distributed over activity systems and communities of practice rather than residing strictly in the head of individuals. The situative perspective looks at learning, cognition, motivation, and achievement as social activities and applies the sociocultural view to research in classroom learning.

Cognitive Apprenticeship: Extension of apprenticeship training techniques to the teaching of cognitive and metacognitive skills.

Formation: An andragogy that produces habits of mind or what some have labeled habitus which is the ability to think in context and perform like a member of the profession.

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