A firm understanding of the mindset of adult learners and andragogy, along with its related theories and assumptions, is essential to effectively teach adult learners. When you use instructional design time-tested principles, adult learners are more likely to effectively receive, understand and retain knowledge being imparted via eLearning, than they would when using other non-systematic design approaches.
Good instructional systems design is the foundation for building learning modules that adult students can relate to. That is because andragogy (the most celebrated theory of adult learning) recognizes that adults
- Learn differently than younger learners do
- Are self-directed and self-motivated
- Are more practical in their learning goals and objectives, and
- Learn better when respected and treated with dignity.
By strategically combining all the elements of this theory into relevant instructional design principles, instructional designers can build truly effective ELearning courses.
Keeping sound instructional design theories in mind when developing learning materials helps accelerate the pace and quality of learning. That is because adult learners grasp knowledge differently than less mature learners do. Therefore, designing systematic instruction for adults will help make absorption and retention more effective.
ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) is an instructional systems design model that seeks to use a systematic approach to designing course materials. The goal is to use structured approaches in designing instructional materials, while also incorporating the fundamental principles that andragogy lays down.
Regardless of which design approach you follow, you must consider:
- Analyzing and identifying the challenges, objectives and goals of the course and its learners
- Designing course material, using techniques such as prototyping and storyboarding, that meet specific learning objectives
- Developing the course content based on the instructional design elements above
- Implementing the course after providing appropriate training to the instructors
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the eLearning course, including course materials, trainers and learning outcomes.
By taking instructional design and andragogy principles into consideration, instructional designers will have the following advantages
- They will be able to design systematic instruction for specific and identified knowledge gaps to be filled. As a result, tailoring and delivering focused content will be easier.
- Since course materials are developed respecting the maturity levels of the audience, the course will more readily be absorbed and retained by learners
- Courses built around sound instructional design theories achieve greater student engagement and participation because the materials are more practical and learners can better relate to what is being taught
- Having an effective evaluation mechanism built into the instructional design offers course designers a structured way to assess the success of the course. Concepts like Prototyping and Pilot runs also will help in refining the course design through successive iterations.