Author Topic: Adult learning methods  (Read 993 times)


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Adult learning methods
« on: April 19, 2017, 11:53:56 PM »
Adult learning methods

When we think about the right learning methods for today's professional talent, we need to design solutions that work with how the brain naturally learns and creates behavior change. We also need to make leaning accessible and relevant for adult learners in their working context. Adult learners are trying to solve real world problems, so the best learning will be available to them right when they need it most. After all, if I'm stuck with something today, whether it's how to use some software or how to have a difficult conversation with a coworker, I need it now. That's where on-demand learning comes in.

It's available and accessible just when it's needed. On-demand learning usually has an online component, making it accessible 24/7 from anywhere. It can take the form of PDF files, videos like this one, books or even classes that are self paced. But the key is that the learners can get their answers easily and immediately, so that they can move on with their work. On-demand learning in all its forms is very powerful, and it should be a key part of your offerings. Adult learners are also unique.

We are each pursuing different careers and at different levels of experience and expertise in our respective fields. This one size approach really fits no one. So the most effective learning solutions are flexible, enough to meet a range of needs. If each of your learners can not immediately connect to what you're offering and find it relevant, they're likely to move on to other options. So it's your responsibility to meet your learners, not the other way around. Consider how you can design solutions for different levels of experience and different categories of workers.

And, of course, solutions should be mapped to the different phases of the Greiner curve. Today we have so many new and wonderful learning methods to choose from. The advent of technology has made it easy to create and share both information and instruction with people all around the world. And there is a difference between information and instruction. Information is really a one-way communication that is provided to the learner. This is where we tell someone something. Let's take the common example of manager training. Information you might tell managers would include policies and procedures.

Like how to approve time cards, or when to submit performance evaluations. Instruction is where we teach someone something. We help them learn or practice a skill or behavior so that they can improve and gain mastery over time. This might include how to provide effective coaching to employees, or how to facilitate a team to be more collaborative. It's likely that you'll be working with both information and instruction, but it's really important that you focus the majority of your time and energy on the latter, because that's where the real behavior change lives.

So this brings me to the model we've all heard about, the 70-20-10 Model. This model's been misinterpreted, so I'm glad I have this opportunity to clear it up. The 70-20-10 Model essentially states that learning occurs primarily on the job 70%, through social interactions with others 20%, and in formal learning events 10%. The study this model comes from was conducted in the 1980s, before technology became so prolific in our work settings.

The participants were 200 successful executives, and these executives were asked to reflect back on the entirety of their careers, and what they said was that the lessons they learned had come from tough jobs 70%, people 20%, and from courses and reading 10%. We can all agree 200 executives isn't necessarily a representative sample, and the nature of both work and success, as well as learning have changed significantly in the last 35 years.

Still, many have used the 70-20-10 Model to downplay the value of formal learning. And others have used it to create a rigid formula for what they offer and when. But today's learning does not neatly fall into these buckets. So what do we really need to know? There is no hard and fast formula. But we do need to make sure that learning has these three components. One, it's relevant to the learners and the organization. Two, it's accessible when and where it's needed. And three, it's effective in driving real behavior change.

If you focus your energy on being a business partner and creating a range of solutions that have those components, you'll help your organization grow and thrive.