Online Teaching Tools for the Adult Learner

Check out my session from the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) 2015 national annual conference held this year in St. Louis, MO. Thank you to all who attended the session!

Abstract

Adult learners have unique needs, and the e-learning or online environment presents additional challenges.  Adult students seek return on their investment of time and money for education.  How do we meet these realities?  This workshop presents the unique learning needs of the adult student through the lens of adult learning theory. It addresses using adults’ experiences in a highly applied and meaningful way with e-learning tools to fulfill adult learner’s goals and desired outcomes.

Online Teaching Tools for the Adult Learner (emaze.com presentation)

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Are You An Authentic Leader?

This post is co-written by Bonnie J. Covelli and Iyana Mason.

Are You An Authentic Leader?

Businessman and author Bill George popularized the theory, authentic leadership, by reflecting on his success in the business world spanning 30 years with his publications, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value and True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, published in 2003 and 2007 respectively. According to George (2003), the five dimensions of authentic leadership include passion, values, relationships, self-discipline, and heart. Authentic leaders embody the following characteristics: 1) understanding their purpose, 2) practicing solid values, 3) leading with heart, 4) establishing connected relationships, and 5) demonstrating self-discipline (George, 2010). Rather than completing these characteristics in a sequential process, authentic leaders develop these qualities over the course of their lifetime because authentic leaders are not born that way (George, 2010).

George (2010) believed that authentic leaders lead with their hearts and learn from their own and other people’s experiences but strive to be authentic with their values and convictions. A central tenet of George’s authentic leadership model is the importance of the leader’s life story in his or her development. A study of more than 125 leaders of various ages, racial/ethnic, religious, etc. backgrounds to learn how people develop their leadership abilities conducted by George, Sims, McLean and Mayer (2007) found that there were no universal traits, styles, or skills of successful, authentic leaders. Rather, in this study, the authors found that for respondents, being authentic made them more effective as leaders. Furthermore, George asserts that the authenticity of the leader, rather than his or her style, is most important (George, 2010).

As you reflect on your own leadership characteristics, can you point to a spirit of authenticity?

References:

George, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [Kindle paperwhite version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

George, B. (2010). Authentic Leadership. In J. T. McMahon (Ed.), Leadership Classics (pp. 574-583). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A., & Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering your authentic leadership. Harvard Business Review, 129-138.

Guest Post: Prior Learning Assessment – Earning Credit for Your Experience

The University of St. Francis has been a leader in providing prior learning credit to students, particularly adult students. The Prior Learning Assessment Program offers a way for earning credit granted for verifiable college–level learning acquired through life or work experiences that can be documented in a portfolio and is equivalent to a college course (experiential learning, training, employment, and certifications). For example, students who have earned the CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning & Performance) designation from ATD (Association for Talent Development) (formerly ASTD) can earn 3 semester hours of credits towards their MS in Training and Development at St. Francis.  This helps students move through the program quicker and provides credit for knowledge they have already achieved.

The following post about prior learning assessment is provided by guest blogger, Pat McClintock, Coordinator of Adult Student Advising and Prior Learning, University of St. Francis

Can prior learning assessment (PLA), recognition of prior learning (RPL), or prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) play a role in your educational and professional endeavors?

Yes, PLA, as it is most commonly known, can play a huge role in attaining credit toward a bachelor’s degree as well as some graduate work. As a trainer, you may have certifications or work experience that could translate into college credit. Or, you may have students who are currently working toward a degree that may have certifications or examinations that may be eligible for college credit.

For many years, higher education institutions have used this process to help adult learners to receive college credit for college-level learning from work and life experience. According to the results of an American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO, 2014) survey, more than two-thirds of responding institutions reported that they accept one type of prior learning credit and most accept more than one.

PLA is assessed in many forms: DSST and CLEP course challenge and oral examinations; standardized tests; credits earned through the American Council of Education’s Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences (ACE Guide, n.d.); and submission of a portfolio that correlates with coursework in a degree program.

Consider checking out the ACE National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training: http://www2.acenet.edu/credit/?fuseaction=browse.main . It contains ACE credit recommendations for formal courses or examinations offered by various organizations, from businesses and unions to the government and military. If you are a trainer for a specific course or exam, you can request a credit review at: https://www2.acenet.edu/salesforcecreditwebinquiry/

References:

American Council on Education. (ACE). (n.d.). National Guide. Retrieved from: http://www2.acenet.edu/credit/?fuseaction=browse.main

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). (Dec. 2014). 60 Second Survey Results: Credit for Prior Learning Practices. Retrieved from: http://www.aacrao.org/docs/default-source/PDF-                        Files/aacrao_dec_2014_60_second_survey_credit_for_prior_learning_practices.p   df?sfvrsn=4

University of St. Francis.  (2015).  Credit for work experience. Retrieved from: http://www.stfrancis.edu/admissions/adultdc/credit-for-work-experience/#.VMlXjnbwvqc

University of St. Francis. (2015). MS Training and Development. Retrieved from: https://www.stfrancis.edu/academics/master-of-science-training-development/

6 keys to reaching and teaching adult students

6 keys to reaching and teaching adult students

Whenever I talk about training adults, there are really two questions that need to be answered before you can begin diving into the topic: Who are the students, and do you really need to teach adults differently?

Who are the students? The snarky answer is “adults” but the diversity within that umbrella term makes subdivision rather important. Sure, corporate trainers and healthcare trainers teach adults, but do they teach the same way just because they happen to both be teaching adults? These practitioners understand the differences among adults, and the instructional strategies required to inspire them. They understand the importance of connecting the learning to the adult’s life; they practice the art of presenting training material in a way that appeals to the physical and psychological needs of their student.  The needs of the adult student are not feared in these programs and workshops and training sessions.

Why then, do we need to research and present academic scholarship on training and development of adults?

Because adults, much like teenagers and grade-schoolers, are remarkably different and constantly changing. As a corporate trainer nearly two decades ago, I developed expertise in working with adults at various stages of their lives, but if I used the same strategies and materials I did then to teach adults now, I wouldn’t get anywhere with the students. The way teaching has evolved over the past twenty years has dramatically changed my style and choice of media in teaching.

Diversity among adult student groups could be discussed at length, and how this diversity affects the instructional environment would be as varied as the training setting, the training location, the training purpose, etc. Even the categorization of the age of an adult student is a floating reality. Is your 20 year old student an adult? What if the 20 year old has a spouse and a child? How does a 25 year student differ from a 65 year old student? I think we can all agree that there are differences.  The research and academic scholarship surrounding the adult learner helps us better understand these differences in order to better serve the needs of the student.

Andragogy, one such academic scholarship theory, was defined by Knowles in the mid-1960’s, as: “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Knowles, Holton and Swanson, 2011).  The theory helps align the unique needs of adult learners with the practice of facilitating learning.  The model presented by Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2011) outlines six adult learning principles that trainers or teachers should recognize and foster as they seek to meet the needs of the adult learner.

Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2011) six adult learning principles

(1)   Adult learners need to know the purpose of training and must understand why or how the learning affects them.

(2)   Adult learners tend to be self-directed, and the learning environment should create opportunities for self-directed exploration.

(3)   Adult learners bring with them and relate their learning to prior experience.

(4)   Adult learners must be ready to learn, and their personal environments often impact their readiness.

(5)   Adult learners often approach learning from the perspective of problem solving or hands-on application.

(6)   Adult learners are motivated to learn for different reasons but often it is related to internal or external rewards and benefits.

These principles transcend the environment and diversity of the student. Regardless of what life stage they are in or their demographics, these principles can guide educators and trainers to better engage their “adult” students.

Reference:

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2011). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. (7th ed.). New York: Routledge. [Kindle paperwhite].