Most adults who participate in online learning are happy with the freedom they enjoy. They no longer have to commute to school after work or sit in drab classrooms that do little to inspire them. Online learning supports them by encompassing all forms of web-based tools. Being a content manager at essaywriterfree, I know that many universities and colleges have embraced this method of teaching as they reach out to their traditional and non-traditional students.
Distance Learning Courses: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners
The following teaching and learning strategies were developed to support online learning or e-learning for adult learners.
- Web-Based – these are online courses provided in either real-time or the course information is stored on a website or course management system that students can access 24 hours a day and seven days a week, year round.
- Integrated Distance Learning – this is a real-time course in which students interact with other course participants live, for example web conferencing or video conferencing.
- Mobile Learning – supports adult learners who desire to participate in courses at their local book store, coffee shop, or other location using their smart phone or laptop.
Distance Education: Major Benefits
How the major benefits of online learning impact adult learners is expressed by:
- Access – reaching all social economic populations of adults who cannot attend on-campus classes for a variety of reasons such as living to far from a campus, courses not offered by local college, childcare, or lack of reliable transportation.
- Opportunities – provides around-the-clock access to adult learners, especially for those who are considered lifelong learners and seek convenience in learning.
- Adaptable – web-based technologies have the ability to quickly evolve as they meet the demands of adult learners who take advantage of personal learning networks and social media.
These benefits support how online learning support adult learners, along with what everyone must know about distance education.
Technologies: Methods of Delivery
There are two web-based technology methods of delivery for online learning courses; those that require students to be online the same time as others and those that do not. Some of these technologies can be used in simultaneous collaboration or at different times.
Adult education e-learning strategies that require all participants to be online at the same time include:
- Web-Based Communication – one example is Skype, where a person clicks on button, image, or text to hold a real-time conversation with someone else using Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP).
- Video Conferencing – allows all participants in a course to see and hear each other in real-time.
- Webinar – traditionally referred to as web conferencing, all students in a course participate from their computer or portable device in real-time.
- Text Messaging – course participants communicate with other students and instructor to share information and contribute to discussions.
- Google Docs – allows students to work with other students in real-time on collaborative presentations, documents, or databases.
Adult education e-learning strategies that do not require all participants to be online at the same time include:
- Twitter – students can communicate and share information with others in a course by providing links to their work, websites, videos, webinars, and other course related information.
- Forums – students contribute to discussion threads related to course topics.
- E-mail – students communicate with classmates and instructors sharing their views about course topics, along with attaching documents and providing links to relevant materials.
- Blogs – students read course materials and leave comments regarding their views of the discussion topic.
- Webinar Database – provides students opportunity to view web conferences they missed using their computer or portable device.
- Google Docs – allows students to work with other students in non-real-time to develop a collaborative presentation, document, or database.
Mobile Learning: Using Portable Devices
Mobile learning happens when an adult learner is not limited to a fixed or predetermined location. Adult learners take advantage of the online learning opportunities using portable technologies.
The value of mobile learning includes:
- Light Weight Devices – for example, PDAs, cell phones with cameras, laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones.
- Learning Support – this is provided by podcasts, videos, e-books, web-based tools, and webinars. These portable tools also allow adult learners to share information gathered with classmates and instructors.
- Discontented Learners – provides the ability to reach young adults who live in an extremely mobile environment and are seeking alternatives for continuing their education.
- Lifelong Learners – allows them to use their portable devices to support their learning through quick access to web-based resources such as dictionaries, e-books, and reference materials.
What are the Issues?
Tutors will need to be fully trained in using this type of equipment to get the most out of it for the learners. Also, with so many different models of mobile phones available, general knowledge will be required to be able to assist each learner.
Some older learners may struggle to grasp the technology enough to get what they want out of it.
In some rural areas of Shetland, there is still a problem with slow internet speeds and many places do not have a good enough mobile network connection to run online applications smoothly.
Due to the fast turnover of mobile phones and electronic devices, models fast become out of date.
The screen size on most handheld devices is relatively small and therefore provides limited space for data to be displayed. Applications and programs would need to be designed with this in mind and information kept brief and to the point.
Although this is a very technical day and age, there are still people who do not have a mobile phone or do not have a phone capable of supporting these educational applications or that connect to the internet, it would therefore be an extra expense, that many people today would struggle to afford.
Examples of its use
Although there appear to be many issues on the first investigation, the potential for this kind of learning is great, especially once several of the minor problems have been ironed out. Some essay writing services suggest that learners could use their handheld device to take pictures and/or videos whilst out on a field trip or as part of a project. They could download podcasts of lessons to listen to while on the go.
An example of a use of a PSP in a classroom is in a Sheffield English lesson where each student was given a PSP to watch a trailer on and answer a worksheet of questions. This is a good example of how large classes could use technology to cater to all levels during individual work.
How online learning supports adult students is through web-based learning environments in which the source of information and the learners are separated by time, distance, or both. Distance learning creates a positive educational environment of equal value for adult learners who do not want to or cannot attend traditional classroom settings for continuing education. Distance education also meets the needs of those interested in continued lifelong learning.
About the author: Bianca J. Ward is a professional online essay writer at EssayWriterFree where she provides people with qualitative works. Besides, she is a passionate photographer and traveler who has visited 52 countries all over the world. Bianca dreams about creating a photo exhibition to present her works to others.