When we talk about the challenges we face with Adult Learners, there are several area’s that we can focus on. I’ve summed these up as Digital blefs. This post will look at the issue, Digital Experience.
The word ‘Experience’ can have many different meanings, for adult learners we can say that Experience could be defined as
‘the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time’
The varying level of experience that an adult learner has been exposed to with technology can be very diverse. Some learners would be very competent with technology having been exposed to it for a number of years, while others have never used technology.
When it comes to applying technology to learning, with minimal digital experience, an adult learner may struggle with the entire concept. Particularly adults returning to learning that grew up in a world where there we no computers in the classroom. Digital Experience flows with Digital Literacy. They are related in the sense that without Experience, there is very low literacy. The more experience the adult learner is exposed, the higher the level of digital literacy the adult learner will have.
Looking at an example, imagine that an adult learner enrolls in a course and is presented with a PDF document and is told ‘Here is your PDF, go and read it’. For a learner with little digital experience, the expected response could be ‘What’s a PDF?’. The adult learner may know how to turn a computer on, and that is as far as their experience goes (not to mention acronyms can simply baffle adult learners!)