Building Andragogy into E-learning: Exploring Adult Learning Experiences
John DiMarco, College of Professional Studies, Division of Mass Communications
Abstract: Knowles (1980) put forth the idea that teaching adults, andragogy, set out four key assumptions, which included moving learners toward self directedness, adults have high levels of experience that drives learning, people want to learn in the context of real life tasks or problems, and learners see education benefit competence. Two additional assumptions were added in 1998 by Knowles, Holton, and Swanson (St. Clair 2002), which posited that adults need to know the reason for learning and self esteem is the most potent motivator.
The adult version of pedagogy, andragogy, centers on engaging learners with the structure of a learning experience. Stripping Knowles’ andragogy into four distinctive areas with the goal of easy implementation into practice, we can use the acronym NORF:
Need to Know – adults need to know the reason for learning something;
(objectives based) use: pretest
Orientation – adult learning is problem-oriented, rather than content-oriented;
(solving problems should be key to content) use: simulation and case study
Readiness – adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives; (understanding the prerequisite learning experiences) use: learner analysis
Foundation – experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities;
(building a “learning spiral”, where one experience leads to another)
use: spiral - from knowledge to application to evaluation to creativity
Complementing areas: are motivation and self-concept, which drive the learner to engage in the experience.
The idea of NORF, a slim version of the adult learning theory of andragogy, put forth by Malcolm Knowles has intersected with the updated version of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is now appropriately labeled Blooms Digital Taxonomy. In the new digital taxonomy, creativity has overtaken evaluation as the highest level of cognitive objective. Using the NORF approach to online learning combined with creative assessment may yield a more engaging and successful learning experience for adult learners.