The success of an organization is determined by the strength of its people. For this reason, it is critical for employees to have access to training and learning opportunities that help them stay abreast of changing industry standards, techniques, and best practices. One method that organizations are using to enhance and develop their employee's skills is eLearning.

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Adult Learning Theory

For hundreds of years, the ways that humans acquire knowledge has been examined. In the 1970s, Malcolm Knowles began to look critically at the nuances of adult learners, developing his theory of adult learning (also known as andragogy). Knowles theory is based on the following five assumptions of adult learners:

• Self-concept: As a person matures, he or she becomes more self-directed.

• Experience: Adults draw on past experiences to learn.

• Readiness: Adult readiness to learn is related to their desire for new social roles.

• Orientation: Adults want to apply new knowledge immediately in problem-solving situations.

• Motivation: Adults are motivated to learn by internal factors.

Author and adult learning specialist Marsha Speck expanded adult learning theory, adding that:

• Adults commit to learning when they can use the information in the "real world."

• Adults have an ego factor, not associated with children's learning. Adult learning must be structured to provide support from peers and reduce the fear of judgment.

• Adults find small group activities helpful for application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of new information.

• Adults benefit from coaching and similar types of support to transfer new information into daily practice.