Motivating Adult Learners

‘Adults in modern society are on a lifelong educational journey’
Raymond J Wlodkowski, Regus University, Denver

Technology presents bold new opportunities for providing adults rich learning experiences in the andragogical tradition. It directly caters to adults’ desire to be self-directed in their learning. Technology-based learning demands that learners be ready for self-directed learning. Unfortunately, there is a high dropout rate among online learners, especially in complex e-learning environments.

The drop-out rates tend to be higher than in face-to-face settings, learners often feel isolated and levels of learning interactivity are often trivial and do not approach the richness of case studies and projects in face-to-face settings. Intrinsically motivated students appear to be more successful in e-learning environments. They are generally more explorative and inquisitive, and accomplish more in a given time period. They do not necessarily do more in a fixed time period, but their higher effort and persistence allows them to accomplish qualitatively greater things. In addition, in a computer environment, they explore proportionally more parts of the program that are designed to gratify participants’ curiosity.

One of the most common questions from organizations trying to grow their online education businesses is ‘How do we keep learners engaged and make sure they actually complete a course?’ It’s a big issue, and it has gotten even bigger with the rise of MOOCs and the abysmal retention rates they have demonstrated so far. Of course, some people exalt in this.