More adults leaning into online learning

Adult learners are embracing the shift to online learning, having discovered its benefits in the wake of last year’s breaker.

And although the change has been a steep learning curve, adult learners and educators have indicated a preference for online learning because of the technology that has made it more convenient.

This was one of the main findings of a survey of 1,354 adult learners between September and February. Residents interviewed were between 20 and 70 years old.

The survey, carried out by the Institute for Adult Learning Singapore (IAL), found a preference for full online learning – from 5.6% before Breaker in April of last year to 26.4% after locking.

IAL is an autonomous institute under the University of Social Sciences of Singapore that provides training and development opportunities for adult educators, and undertakes applied research for the development of practice in training and education. adults (TAE).

Why the enthusiasm for online learning?

Convenience and flexibility, respondents said.

Referring to the time saving spent on commuting, one said he spent three hours getting to and from class. It’s as long as the three hour lesson. “So the good thing (about online learning) is that I save time. Instead of traveling, I can review the course and then do my own self-study. “

Praising the e-learning model for its convenience and flexibility, one adult learner said, “If I miss a certain (thing), like a chapter, or (there is) something that I don’t. didn’t understand, I can just go back and see him again ”.

Online conferencing, self-guided lessons, and video conferencing are the most common modes for those who have participated in e-learning programs.

“While we are seeing a shift in learner preferences,” says IAL lead researcher Sheng Yee Zher, “it’s also worth noting the importance of a positive online learning experience for learners.

“Therefore, there is a need for training providers and adult educators to strive to offer quality online courses with a high level of interactivity to encourage continued participation.”

Were there any drawbacks to the learning process?

A major concern highlighted by around half of the respondents was the lack of social interaction with other classmates and the trainer.

Mr. Sheng says, “Learners talked about the ‘human’ element missing from the online environment, the possibility of forming friendships, and the value of such interaction for their learning. “

The study found that adult learners enjoyed the face-to-face experience of a traditional classroom, wishing for more opportunities to interact with their peers without being limited by technological support, Sheng added.

This suggests a need for organizations to improve their learning programs to encourage active collaboration.

The survey also found a higher level of satisfaction among those surveyed who participated in a blended learning program, which is a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Synchronous learning takes place in real time, and asynchronous learning allows adult learners to work on their own time and schedule.

A blended learning approach – a blend of online and classroom learning – allows adult learners to enjoy the flexibility of studying at their own pace, while being able to communicate freely with others.

Adult online learners were also somewhat uncomfortable that trainers were unfamiliar with using digital tools. This was one of the main concerns raised by one in four online learners surveyed.

The result is consistent with that of an online survey of adult educators conducted by researchers at the IAL from May to June of last year. This survey found that digital skills were one of the main challenges adult educators faced during the transition to online learning.

Why the need to adopt digital?

To meet the demands of today’s learning landscape, training providers should aim to provide more concrete professional development opportunities and financial support to help adult educators develop their expertise on the job, says lead researcher Chen Zan .

“With the digital transformation taking off and the influx of new teaching and learning technologies, it is crucial for organizations to offer lifelong learning to adult educators to stay relevant and develop skills-oriented. future that are needed to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world of work, ”says Dr. Chen.

“I think this (digital transformation) has forced us to rethink our approaches. Covid-19 has provided an opportunity for training providers to explore different modes of training. In the future, we need to embrace technology even more. Especially as our learners become more tech savvy, they may prefer to take online courses if they see the same benefits as face-to-face lessons, if not more. “