Good learning design, generally speaking, covers the necessary steps and activities for learning to take place. It’s that simple, right?
A point of debate in the world of learning design is whether good learning design is applicable to all, no matter the age. On some levels it is. On other levels it isn’t. The format it takes plays a big factor.
What makes learning design for adults uniquely different? In a comical sense, it’s our baggage. That’s right; it’s all the experiences, good and bad, that we bring to the table.
However, baggage has a negative connotation and doesn’t set the stage with the growth mindset model we should use to approach the learner. For the sake of argument, and functionality, we like to think of learners entering with a backpack of experiences and knowledge.
Address the Backpack
Baggage is not the issue when adult learners show up to learn. More or less, it is a backpack that is filled with life experiences and lots of knowledge–all of which informs who we are and how we see the world. When working with adults, it’s a sound practice to approach the learning experience with the backpack in mind.
Adults have a depth of experience and years of knowledge–so much so that when they learn new information, ample time is needed for reflection in order to integrate the new knowledge into their existing frameworks.
Here are a few suggestions on how to build that into the learning experience.
We find it’s helpful to establish that you value who your participants are and the backpack of experiences they show up with. Providing a safe space to reflect and practice is a way to show you value them.
For those who plan and deliver in-house PD, give yourself grace as you try these suggestions. Be ready to make mistakes, iterate your design, and revamp your approach to match the learner’s experience.
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Ross Herdina, Co-Founder, Agile Ideas Leadership