From the desk of Dorothy McKinley Soressi
School Change Maker
Meeting the needs of students to change their future
The Social Environment of Learning
Much of today’s learning happens inside a social context. When a student asks a question, the whole class learns. When students laughs at a teacher’s joke- the students engage. This type of social learning environment encourages a positive learning experience.
Research and discovery in the adult education field try to discern how adults learn best, how educating adults differs from the education of children, and how to ensure that adults retain the important information that they’ve set out to learn.
When it comes to adult learning, the methods and trends are ever-evolving. Current trends in adult learning include access to technology that allows videos and content that can be accessed anytime, microlearning and gamification. Technology is key to the lifestyle of most adult learners. The concept of microlearning, taking ideas or concept and present them in a short easy to digest format. The use of games in the classroom is another trend that engages students. Gamification can be an effective tool for adult learning. It involves using game concepts to deliver content. It increases student engagement, retention of concepts and educational content.
Adult learners are demanding more from teachers. They value teachers that offer learning experiences from the teacher’s perspective. Adult learning and instruction is moving toward a more collaborative environment between the learner and the teacher.
Adult learning trends are moving toward an atmosphere of accountability. Self-led learning allows for learning that works within a student’s schedule and at their own discretion. It allows adult learners to be proactive in their educational process.
Educating adults differs in many ways. First, adults have accumulated knowledge or work experience that adds to their learning experience. Second, most adult education is voluntary and students are motivated. Third, adults applying knowledge in practical areas must have a reasonable expectation that the knowledge they are gaining will help them with their future goals.
Using adult students’ ideas, suggestions, and participation to create the social environment most desired by the adult learners is imperative for success.
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