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Kerry Pascall Applying Adult Learning Principals to eLearning

You must not forget your learners are adults and care should be taken to address their learning principles. This means when they complete an eLearning module, they should be engaged, motivated and want to know more and are not left feeling patronised.

When you develop content, your eLearning provider should ensure that as many adult learning principles are applied as possible. Here is a list of the top 6 principles we feel are key to a successful eLearning module:

1. Adults decide for themselves what is important to be learned

  • All eLearning courses should use suitable ‘what’s it in for me?’ statements at the appropriate places.
  • All eLearning courses should explain to the learner how the information contained in the course will be of use to them.

2. Adults need to validate the information based on their beliefs and experiences

  • The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) should include gathering information on potential learner responses to the material being covered within the application. This information should then be incorporated into the finished design.
  • Appropriate use of ‘real world’ examples/scenarios etc. should be utilised as often as possible.

3. Adults expect what they are learning to be immediately useful

  • eLearning courses should reinforce how the information contained within the module will be of use to the delegates.

4. Adults have past experience on which to draw, so may have fixed viewpoints

  • Opportunities for learners to respond to questions should be maximised throughout the course.
  • All courses should avoid ‘telling’ wherever possible.

5. Adults actively participate

  • Designers should always maximise the number and variety of interactions within any course.
  • Designers should avoid any ‘chalk and talk’ presentation style within the eLearning course. (E.g. Over reliance on text based information.)

6. Adults share planning

  • Wherever possible learners should be given the choice of which section of the course they wish to tackle first (whilst avoiding the possibility of a learner commencing a section which requires another section to have been completed first).

Did you know Bray Leino Learning offer an instructional design service as well as end to end eLearning development?

We can help you with your content development and make sure that adult learning principles are applied. Contact us to find out more.


Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning

In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pro’s and con’s, and general advice on everything eLearning!

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