Tired of Bad Online Education

I love education, and I love online education. I am the type of person who is a lifelong learner, always wondering and trying new things. I am currently taking an American Sign Language class through my local Hearing and Deaf Center. This value has led me to obtain my Masters degree in Adult Education. I received my degree online, while being a full-time mom and employee. Being able to get my degree online was the only way I could’ve pursued a masters degree. I didn’t have the financial ability to not be employed. I really love the flexibility that online education gives me. AND I’M SO TIRED OF BAD ONLINE EDUCATION! 

Honestly, it is really hard to create good online courses. It takes way more time and requires a more robust learning platform to host the course (which is expensive). It also takes an understanding of adult education principles (andragogy). You need to understand what the adult learner needs and what will keep them engaged. 

Many online courses that you will find are recorded videos or recorded powerpoint presentations. SNOOZE! I have the hardest time with these. They are so hard to stay engaged and present. Not to mention a lot of times they are just unappealing powerpoint presentations. So let’s talk about how you can find an online course that is actually going to be good.

All About Andragogy and Adult Learners

Let’s start with the basics. Andragogy, a term coined by educator Malcolm Knowles in the 1960s, refers to the art and science of teaching adults.

It’s more than just a pedagogical (teaching) approach; it’s a philosophy that recognizes the unique characteristics, needs, and motivations of adult learners.

The first step in mastering andragogy is understanding the adult learner. Unlike children, adults come to the learning table with a wealth of experiences, motivations, and responsibilities.

Recognizing these differences is crucial for creating effective and engaging learning environments for adults.

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  1. Self-Concept:

Adults perceive themselves as self-directed individuals who want to take control of their learning. They seek autonomy and prefer to be responsible for their educational choices.

  1. Experience:

Adults bring a wealth of life experiences to the learning environment. Acknowledging and leveraging these experiences can enhance the learning process, making it more relevant and engaging.

  1. Readiness to Learn:

Adults are ready to learn things that they believe will help them in real-life situations. They are motivated by the immediate applicability of knowledge and skills.

  1. Orientation to Learning:

Adults are task-oriented, preferring learning that is problem-centered rather than content-centered. They appreciate the direct application of what they are learning to their daily challenges.

Key Principles of Andragogy as It Applies to Online Education

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s explore some key principles that define andragogy. These principles act as a compass, guiding educators to create effective learning experiences tailored to adult learners.

Engagement and Relevance:  Adult learners thrive on relevance. They are most engaged when they see a direct connection between what they’re learning and their real-life situations. As an educator, incorporating practical examples and real-world applications can significantly enhance the learning experience.

Self-Directed Learning:  Give adults the autonomy to direct their learning journey. Provide resources, guidance, and opportunities for independent exploration. This not only fosters a sense of responsibility but also allows learners to tailor their learning experience to their specific needs and interests.

Respect for Experience:  Acknowledge and respect the rich tapestry of experiences adults bring to the learning environment. Encourage the sharing of these experiences, creating a dynamic and collaborative learning atmosphere where everyone benefits from each other’s insights.

Collaborative Learning:  While self-directed learning is crucial, adults also benefit from collaborative experiences. Group discussions, peer learning, and collaborative projects can enrich the learning process, providing diverse perspectives and fostering a sense of community.

Immediate Application:  Adults are motivated by the prospect of applying what they learn immediately. Design learning activities that allow for the direct application of knowledge and skills in real-life situations. This not only reinforces learning but also enhances its practical value.

Implementing Andragogy in Practice

Now that we’ve grasped the essence of andragogy, let’s explore some practical strategies for implementing this approach in educational settings.

  1. Flexible Learning Environments:  Recognize that adult learners have diverse schedules and responsibilities. Offer flexible learning options, such as online courses, evening classes, or blended learning approaches. This flexibility accommodates the varied needs of adult learners.
  1. Interactive and Engaging Content:  Create content that is not only informative but also interactive and engaging. Incorporate multimedia, case studies, and discussions to cater to different learning styles and preferences. The more interactive the learning experience, the more impactful it becomes.
  1. Real-World Applications:  Integrate real-world applications into your curriculum. Whether through case studies, simulations, or hands-on projects, connecting theoretical concepts to practical scenarios enhances understanding and retention.
  1. Encourage Reflective Practices:  Facilitate opportunities for reflection. Encourage adult learners to reflect on their experiences, analyze their learning process, and consider how new knowledge aligns with their existing understanding. This reflective practice enhances metacognition and deepens learning.
  1. Provide Ongoing Support:  Offer continuous support throughout the learning journey. This can take the form of mentorship, feedback sessions, or access to additional resources. Recognize that learning is a dynamic process, and providing ongoing support ensures that learners feel empowered and motivated.
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Understanding Andragogy is the Future of Online Education

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of education, andragogy remains a beacon of relevance and adaptability. Its principles provide a roadmap for creating learning experiences that resonate with the unique characteristics of adult learners.

In an era where lifelong learning is not just a buzzword but a necessity, andragogy stands as a powerful ally. By embracing and implementing the principles of andragogy, educators can unlock the full potential of adult learners, fostering a culture of continuous growth, curiosity, and empowerment.

Creating online courses that are valuable and worthy of your time need to follow these principles of andragogy.

Whether you’re an educator, a student, or someone passionate about the endless possibilities of learning, andragogy invites us to explore, reflect, and thrive in the rich tapestry of knowledge that surrounds us. So, let the journey begin, and may your learning adventures be as fulfilling as they are enlightening!

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