Your millennial students may take to ed tech resources like fish to water but the same may not hold for your nontraditional learners. Adult learners who have not been inside a classroom for many years or even decades may feel the extra challenge of dealing with unfamiliar technology in addition to the fear of dealing with assignments and learning new information.

Qualities of adult learners

It’s a mistake to assume that all adult learners are familiar with newer technologies. Moreover, they tend to have different goals, motivations and challenges than the traditional student.

Qualities of adult learners to keep in mind include:

  • They are results driven
  • They are self-directed
  • They may be committed to one particular platform (Apple or Android)
  • They may not know common technology jargon
  • Lack of experience may lead to a fear of trying new things
  • They may not possess the most up-to-date system and software

Adult learners need tools that are easy to use, accessible on any platform and available on demand. They also need clear instructions, repetition, practice, and support.

New technologies

The benefit of digital educational technology tools is that they are available to students whenever they need them, can be customized by the instructor, work on any device or platform, and engage the student through interactivity. Once adult learners get acquainted with the current technologies, they will begin to appreciate their ease and flexibility.

Some technology tools to consider include:

  • SAM:  An online study tool from Cengage Learning helps students to learn and succeed in their courses. Adult learners may need a bit of hand-holding but will soon appreciate the ability to learn and test themselves at their own pace.
  • MindTap: A personalized program of digital products and services that engages students with interactivity while also offering both students and instructors choice in content, platform, devices and learning tools.
  • Cengage NOW: an online teaching and learning resource that helps students with self-study and instructors with presenting content and monitoring student progress.

You can explore these and many more ed tech tools as well as access assistance with using tools in your classroom through Cengage Engagement Services.

Strategies for using ed tech

Once adult learners understand the benefits to be gained through new educational technologies, they will be more open to using them. However, instructors may need to create more support systems for their adult learners.

Strategies to help adult learners adapt to new learning technologies include:

  • Instructions that avoid the use of jargon such as, “url”
  • An opportunity for repetition and practice of new skills
  • When creating materials the use of fonts and styles that are easy to read
  • Familiarizing students with online help features
  • Being available (or having support staff available) to provide help and troubleshooting
  • Being patient
  • Treating students like adults
  • Building on prior knowledge

The older the adult learner, the more likely it will be that they require repetition and supervision to complete even basic computer tasks. On the up side, these learners will retain information once it is learned and are motivated to continue in their education pursuits.

If you have students who need the most basic of tutorials to help them get up to speed, then I recommend the site, TechBoomers.com. Designed specifically for older adults, TechBoomers has tutorials on the most popular sites on the Internet from social networks to watching videos. Special resources are dedicated to adults over the age of 50.

What strategies have worked for you in helping your adult learners benefit from ed tech? Tell us in the comments.