As educators for adult learners we are passionate about providing awareness and motivation to students. We research, study, design and implement methods to improve the learning experience. The cornerstone of strategies involves adult and social learning theories, and we seek to ensure those theories stay current. Our curriculum is stellar, full of experiential learning, reflection, and tools for successful critical thinking. We pour hours of investment into faculty training. However, in our excitement for the world of andragogy, we easily forget that those adult learners came from traditional and pedagogical learning methodologies, meaning that they do not know what to expect in a world devised strictly for them.
As the director of an online platform at an incredibly growing university (166 to 813 students in two years), two interesting types of feedback have been occurring.Â The first type of feedback demonstrated frustration that faculty would not answer questions directly, and simply compounded the topic. The second type of feedback demonstrated happiness and even surprise when faculty would invest time and effort in the collaboration process.
This shows me, as an administrator, that some of my faculty are performing very well, pushing and collaborating with students to think critically and reflect. Meanwhile, other faculty is not providing an effective learning environment, something of which is especially critical for online students. As I pondered ways to improve training for all faculty as a result of these trends, I was shocked to discover a very simple and easy way to resolve this. Yes, training faculty should still be a strong focus, but the obvious epiphany was that our students didnâ€™t know what to expect.
It is important to understand the motivations and methods adults learn effectively in order to facilitate and design curriculum well. However, what would happen if the learners understood those same motivations and methods? What if the learners had a basic understanding of the theory behind the facilitation and curriculum approach? What if the learners knew exactly what defined a truly excellent facilitator? For adult learners unfamiliar with the expectations until they â€run intoâ€ quality facilitation, they do not have a good understanding of a quality education steeped in experiential learning.
I propose providing this knowledge so that the learners can hold faculty accountable.
My current project is to create a video of awareness and expectations of faculty and curriculum for online adult learners and provide in first introductory course for our associate and bachelor degree programs. Keep posted for the video…
Meanwhile I am looking forward to a new stream of much more informative feedback and ability to ensure a top-notch online group of faculty.