7 Key Components of a Quality Adult Learning Program


Creating learning experiences for adults looks different than a traditional school setting. Hopefully, adults have learned how to engage in the learning process more fully and can take ownership of their learning journey. While a hands-on approach can still benefit adult learners, it’s important to create learning programs that meet the needs of busy adults. Here are the 7 most important components of a learning program designed for adults.

Understand Different Learning Styles

Before you create a program or start using one, it’s important to understand the different ways that adults learn. Visual aids, specific examples, technology, and experiential activities all work together to help adults learn. Even now, there are adult learning programs that use gamification to enhance the learning experience. Teaching a topic using as many styles as is relevant can improve the learning experience and make the material easier to remember. Most learners will gain new knowledge through a combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic means.

Make it Easy to Incorporate Skills They Already Have

The easiest way to teach a new skill is by using what they already know. Using prior knowledge to create a foundation for new information is powerful. For example, if you want your students to learn how to use a computer program, start by asking them about their favorite websites and apps. Then incorporate those into the lesson plan so that they can see how the new program works in action. This can help their brain make quicker connections with the new content.

Keep it Modern With Technology

The most effective way to teach adults is with a modern approach. Know your target demographics. The technology experience of someone who is 60 years old will be vastly different from that of a 30 year old adult. Using technology however, is powerful. You can create content that’s engaging and that easily incorporates video, audio, games, and apps to reinforce the content and help them learn new ideas. Finding and using a learning management software that offers you more than one option can help you deliver content that connects more easily with your students. Adult learners like brief lessons that they can even do on their own time and at their own pace.

You can leverage technology to make your lessons more engaging, accessible, and efficient for adult learners. Plus, using the right tools can help you create more effective content as well.

Offer In-Person Options

In-person learning is a must for adult learners. It allows for more interaction and social learning, which can be fun for some people. In addition, in-person classes help build a sense of community and can help with motivation. Depending on the topic, offering in-person learning can help adults improve their career skills, give them more satisfaction in life, and improve their overall sense of security.

Use Hands-On Learning When Possible

Hands-on learning can be a great way to learn, and it’s often more memorable than traditional methods. You can offer hands-on labs, simulations, and even field trips. Yes, adults like field trips too. A good adult learning program may incorporate all of these to help people learn new skills. Plus, being able to practice these new skills in a hands-on way can help to solidify the new knowledge.

Create Content That’s Relevant

You can’t build a quality program without relevant content. In order to be effective, you need to make sure that your course materials are relevant to the learner and to the job if applicable. For companies who are creating learning materials for staff, the content should address the needs of each individual learner. When the content is also relevant to the job, the learner can see how the new material relates to what they already do.

Deliver Content in a Seamless Way

Provide learners with the information they need, when they need it. Many organizations offer in-person workshops to practice skills, but they gain new knowledge through learning management platforms. This allows them the best of both worlds. The instructor can focus on helping students apply the content they learned, answer questions, and help them overcome obstacles. Delivering the content seamlessly is important to keep adult learners engaged and focused on the material and not focused on how the material is being delivered.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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