When an adult makes a conscious decision to start studying again, especially after a reasonable time away from learning, chances are they are going to run into some technology challenges they’d never encountered before. Here is how to bridge the technology gap faced by your adult learners.
This article follows on from my previous article 5 Technology Challenges Faced By Adult Learners where I’ve summarized the main points that adult learners could face when learning with technology.
So, how do educators adapt their delivery to help adult learners facing these technology challenges? Here are 5 things that I believe an educator can use to bridge the technology gap with adult learners:
- Know your stuff.
You can’t help someone if you don’t know yourself! As an educator you need to have a good grasp on the technology you’re going to use. Don’t be scared to try new things and new software. What’s the worst that can happen? (as long as you’ve backed up!). Get on to social media, RSS feeds and Blogs. Follow and keep up with technology, it’s not as daunting as you think.
Ask the questions of your students and learn to identify what your students do and don’t know. You can’t always assume that your students know everything. Ask questions like “Can I email you this link?” or “Have you tried searching Google for it?” and gauge their response. This will give you a great insight into their knowledge and provide you with a starting point.
- Bring it down.
Enough of the jargon! Bring it down to the level of your student. Once you’ve identified your students technology level (digital literacy), you’ll know the level of conversation needed. For me, I’ve found that trying to describe things using a bucket analogy seems to work with adult learners. For example, trying to explain how a folder structure works, I bring it down to simple buckets within buckets, the more buckets you have nested inside other buckets, the more complex it gets!
- Provide relevant resources.
When providing resources, be it paper or electronic, make the resources relevant to what you’ve been discussing with your student. Don’t give a student more than what they can handle, you will lose them. As you’ve already identified what the student’s strengths are, play to these. If they know Word Processing and Email, send them document in an email, if not, arrange to have it printed and mailed to them.
- Don’t give up.
Last but not least, don’t give up on your students! With the support, resources and experience that you provide them, you can open a whole new world of learning. Your students will come round and they’ll have that light bulb moment which makes it all worth it for use as educators.