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10 tips to motivate adult learners

Adult learners: back to school?

“You have only one job: go to school.” How many times have you heard this back in your childhood? According to our parents, school was our main concern back then and they were right. What has changed? Well, we are adult learners now, we have thousands of things to do, we spend most of our time doing our job and we find learning an additional task.

Also, the academic habits we once possessed are all gone or lost. So what can a company do to motivate employees to learn, taking into consideration all of these? Well, there are a few steps to be followed.

Tips & tricks for adult learners

  1. Build communities

We all learn better in a social environment, where we can exchange knowledge with people we can relate to, such as our colleagues or other professionals who work in the same industry as we do. Thus, provide your adult learners with communities of practice, where they can assimilate information efficiently.

  1. Focus on practical knowledge

An aspect which could motivate employees to get involved in a training process would be to make things easier for them on the long run. What does this mean? That after a training they can go back to performing their tasks in a more efficient and productive way. So, it’s important to design training programs that involve immediate relevance.

  1. Empower curiosity

We’re not students at school anymore, but we all get excited when it comes to exploration and discovery rather than just reading theoretical concepts. Thus, empower curiosity and facilitate exploration by means of the resources you provide your employees with. A few suggestions? Interactive video, infographics, podcasts, resources that usually trigger active engagement.

  1. Chunk information

Small bits of information are easier to process and they provide knowledge retention on the long term for the adult learners. An easy way to do that on an eLearning platform such as Knolyx is by using micro-learning, which allows you to chunk information and deliver short, but relevant pieces of information that do not overload the employees.

  1. Stimulate learners

There are various way in which you can do this and they depend on the employees’ learning styles and training needs. You can create brain teasers, ask challenging questions, create context in which they can practice the theoretical knowledge, such as branching scenarios.

  1. Ask for feedback

It’s important to know what the adult learners' perspective is upon a training because this helps the company know how to organize the learning and development programs from then on. Ask the employees from feedback on training materials, course delivery, learning resources, applicability and accessibility and take their opinions into consideration when organizing another training program.

  1. Let them make mistakes

We learn better when we turn our mistakes in lessons. Henry Roediger did an experiment to prove this idea, and he divided his student in 2 groups, group A studied natural sciences paper for 4 sessions, while group B studied the same paper for one session and was tested on it three times. According to the experimenter, one week later, students from group B performed 50% better than group A, as they studied less, but practice more. So the appliance of theory is beneficial and it puts information where it belongs.

  1. Get examples from the workplace

Because that’s why corporate training programs are delivered, right? To help employees perform better at the workplace, to decrease the skills gap and to put them up to date with what happens in the industry from the knowledge point of view. So, during the training program you should provide them with actual examples from the workplace, so that they can see the relevance of the course and how they can integrate what they learn into their daily tasks.

  1. Make it visually compelling?

Did you know that 83% of learning occurs visually? Keep this in mind when creating training materials and eContent resources for the adult learners.

  1. Don’t organize trainings just for the sake of it

Make a training plan based on needs and corporate goals, look for the best way to deliver information, learn how to engage employees and always have a strategy behind it, it’s live-saving. Or at least business-saving.

In order for a training program to be successful among adult learners, it needs to imply active learning, which means that your employees should actually be engaged, not just passive recipient of theoretical knowledge.

Some (final) thoughts

In order for a training program to be successful, it needs to imply active learning, which means that your employees should actually be engaged, not just passive recipient of theoretical knowledge.

This article is part of a bigger topic called: 

Corporate Training

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