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March 12, 2015 / Thinknology

Do Your Instructional Materials Measure Up?

Shaping educational research and methodologies into effective instructional materials for adult students is difficult to do, but not impossible. Here are 5 questions to ask about materials you plan to purchase or create yourself.

  1. Are your materials designed for adults, not children?

This is the most obvious question but you may be surprised at how many programs use materials designed for kids with their lower-level adult students. I realize that these materials are used because there is nothing else available. But, it’s really insulting for an adult to be reading about clowns and turtles. There are programs out there that are designed for adults, you just have to look.

  1. Is the context relevant to the lives of adult students?

Contextualized learning is very important in teaching adults. The students enter the program to build basic skills in order to obtain a high school equivalency certificate or to improve their employability. So, why not teach the skills in the context of what is relevant to their lives: life, work, health, finances, parenting and so on. The instruction will be a lot more meaningful, engage the student, and contribute to their persistence.

  1. Is your instruction built for the technology adults have?

Many adult students have phones but they don’t have computers or tablets. So, make sure that the technology that delivers the instruction can be easily accessed on any device. A student may begin working on a lesson, for example, on the computer in your classroom and finish it on his or her phone at home. Stay away from clunky, complex, and outdated software programs that have to be installed on your local network. Online is the way to go.I flexible and adaptable

4. Are the materials flexible and adaptable?

Adults have much going on in their lives and may not be able to attend class on a regular schedule. Sometimes work schedules change, kids get sick, or there are transportation problems. So, the instructional materials must be flexible and adaptable in order to accommodate learning when life gets in the way.

  1. Are the materials fresh and engaging?

Here is where instruction delivered online is the way to go. Given all of the information available instantly, content becomes dated very quickly. Online instruction can be updated quickly and easily and even taken down when it becomes outdated or obsolete. If you’re creating your own instruction, consider using one of the available learning management systems but make sure it works on the technology the students have. However, it’s much easier and effective to use a program where everything is already done for you.

Some of thequestions in this blog are based on Francesca Segrè’s excellent article in edSurge she presents ways to develop effective materials for adults. Asking these questions will set you on the road to buying or creating effective and engaging instructional materials for your adult students.

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