Critical Theory: Adult Learners and Online Learning, Characteristics, Assumptions, Facts
Adult learners who study online are in a vantage position to combine work and other responsibilities that include, for example, work and raising family. However, while studying online for adult learners is more convenient compared to formal learning, they still face a number of challenges that can affect their learning experiences. For example, most of adult learners are accustomed to traditional classroom setting and may face difficulties adjusting to online learning. Further, adult learners also have characteristics that are unique compared to other group of learners such as children and adolescents. Most of them prefer a learning environment where they have autonomy (Wanga et al., 2008). In addition, adult learners are more practical and prefer a learning environment where real life issues are addressed. They also prefer to be treated as equals and challenged beyond their cognitive ability in the learning process. However, these characteristics have an impact on their study online because similar to traditional classrooms, adult learners studying online need a facilitator. As such, the control that they desire in the learning process may not be possible because the instructor plays an active role in designing the training program. The presence of an instructor is also necessary because adult learners have special needs and requirements. Other issues that affect adult learners online include gender and cultural issues. For instance, while more female adult learners are enrolling to study online, the limit they can go is still restricted by gender rules. On the other hand, the lack of culturally sensitive instructional methods also affects the learning process for adult online learners (Wanga et al., 2008).The purpose of this paper is to explore the major characteristics that might affect the adult learners who study online. Other than the characteristics associated with adult online learners, additional factors examined include their learning styles, gender and cultural issues impacting on their study online. Since online learning is a new phenomenon, this paper also analyzes facts and assumptions cited in literature regarding adult online learners.
Characteristics of adult learners who study online
Among the characteristics impacting on adult learners who study online involve being accustomed to traditional and passive classroom which makes it difficult to adapt to online learning environments. Further, most of the adult learners have responsibilities that include, for instance, work and taking care of their families and this can affect the learning process. Compared to children and adolescents, adult learners enroll for learning programs voluntarily and manage their classes around work and family obligations. Other characteristics associated with adult learners include biological changes that affect, for example, memory and consequently, their inability to process information. Since adult learners tend to be independent and self- directed they prefer to exercise control over their learning. This is because most of adult learners are accustomed to managing their own lives and thus prefer their own initiatives and making decisions for themselves. As such, where they lack autonomy over their learning, most adult will resist the learning and in extreme cases, sabotage the process. In this sense, trainers preparing programs for adult learners need to involve the adult learner in the development of the learning program (Cercone, 2008).
Further, adults are intrinsically motivated by their interests, needs and desires. They prefer a learning process that resonates with their career progression, job skills and professional development. Consequently, their attraction to study online is dependent on a training program that is well structured, organized and clearly defines course objectives. On another note, adults are considered to have more experience and prefer to link new learning to prior learning. This allows them to evaluate the validity and importance of new ideas and how such ideas or concepts resonates with their life experiences and problem solving skills. As such, it is necessary for trainers to understand the knowledge and experience of adult learners to improve the linkage of new concepts to their prior learning and experiences. Most of the adults were educated in the traditional classrooms and adapting to learning online requires interaction between adult learners to enhance the sharing of experiences and perspectives. Adult learners are more practical and prefer a learning program that is useful to their lives in general. Most of them are eager to make sense of a learning experience and often frustrated with theories that has no immediate use. Instead, they are more interested in learning theories that are related to practical problems. The implication in this sense for online trainers is that they need to develop training programs that are practical and meet the specific needs of adult learners (Cercone, 2008).
Studying online is a new educational landscape that can suit the needs of adult learners if properly harnessed. This is because, most adults appear intimated by formal learning environments. The intimidation in this context is a result of a hangover from their experience of school and unpleasant learning situations that affects their confidence and self-esteem. Further, past experience can act as an impediment to new learning. Consequently, adult learners may have to unlearn their negative attitudes towards learning to enhance their learning experiences. While the introduction of e-learning has increased the number of adult learners seeking education, there are still challenges that adult learners need to tackle. For instance, staying for a long time without undertaking formal learning contributes to learning barriers such as rusty study, poor reading skills and test anxiety. In this regard, trainers need to develop learning atmosphere that is supportive, collaborative and non-threatening. In addition, adult learners prefer a learning environment that will help to build their confidence and self-esteem. They need support to improve their study and learning skills, memory and reading comprehension (Papas, 2013).
On the other hand, adult learners are affected by conflicting roles that include, for example, the demands of work, running a home and raising a family. As a result, adult learners have less time to plan, read, study or learn. On this note, there is a need for a flexible program that can minimize the conflict between other roles and learning. There are also sets of habits that are associated with adult learners which they find difficult to change. For example, adults require more time for reflection compared to young learners. In this respect, trainers involved in online programs need to explain to adult learners why change is necessary in achieving their educational goals. With regard to learning style, an informal learning situation such as online learning requires the trainers to embrace a facilitator style instead of a lecturing style (Papas, 2013).
Adult learners, who are studying online also prefer their trainers to emphasize more on the process rather than content and present material as a way of accommodating different learning styles. Adult learners prefer being treated as equals and given the freedom to express their concerns, views and opinions. Further, because adult learners are more practical, they prefer their online trainers to use case studies, discussions, role play or simulation that engages their skills and experiences. They also prefer feedback at appropriate intervals since learning from feedback provides them with a sense of achievement and personal growth. Adult learners are often interested in knowing the progress they are making on the learning task. This ensures that they can understand what they are doing right or wrong. On the other hand, they also prefer to be challenged beyond their present level of ability. However, when challenged to the extreme, they become stressed and demoralized and in some cases, give up on the learning process (Wanga et al., 2008).
Further, maturity also means adult learners can be rigid and less open minded and this may affect their study online especially where they are not ready to change their mindset. While change is necessary to ensure that adult learners adjust to new instruction methods, most of them prefer their comfort zone where they do things at their own pace and this can derail others in the same group, particularly young adults who are highly motivated to learn.On another note, adults are not a homogeneous group and tend to differ in terms of gender, age, culture, personality, attitude and beliefs (Wanga et al., 2008).
Learning styles of adult learners
Most adults consider learning as a process developed by the instructor and taking place in classrooms where students sit and listen to what is taught. However, as a result of technological advancement, adults are increasingly drawn to learning online. This is mainly influenced by their tight schedules and the convenience provided by studying online. In this regard, trainers offering online courses also need to adjust in terms of understanding the needs of adults seeking online study. On the same note, learning theories related to andragogy, for instance, is necessary to assist online trainers working with adult learners. There are a number of theories that can be associated with andragogy and they include, for example, experiential learning, self-directed learning, and transformative learning (Richmond & Cummings, 2005).
With regard to experiential learning, instructors involved with adult learners need to focus on three components that include new ideas or facts, prior knowledge and activities of learners necessary for personal growth. In essence, experience is critical for adult learning because they need to link what they have learned to their past as a way of making changes for future implications. On the other hand, self-directed learning emphasizes the need for the adult learner to control their learning environment. In this sense, it is the adult learner who should initiate the learning process with minimal support from other persons. In addition, self-directed learning requires autonomy, persistence, self-discipline and the desire to learn. However, since most of the adult learners are accustomed to the formal learning situation, they still need guidance in embracing a self-directed approach to learning. Concerning transformative learning, adult learners are required to change their world view and develop new meanings through experiences. However, learners still need support to connect new ideas with the old (Richmond & Cummings, 2005).
In applying the and ragogical process model, adult learners should be prepared to receive and get involved in their instruction. In this regard, the instructor need to gather and provide information to the students and get them focused on the content of the instruction. Further, the instructors need to assist their students in developing realistic expectations related to the learning process. It is also necessary to develop a favorable environment that can enhance the learning process for adult learners. Such an environment needs to be collaborative where the adult learners can share their experiences and ideas. In an online environment, for example, it is important for the instructor to monitor interactions between adult learners and also enforce proper academic standards that enhance the learning process. While planning for lessons, it is necessary for the instructor to also involve the input of the adult learners. In terms of determining the learning styles of adult learners, an instrument such as Style Inventory that focuses on experiential learning theories is important. This instrument focuses on two dimensions of learning (Cercone, 2008).
Applying Styles Inventory in online study program for adult learners allows instructors to broaden their delivery approach since the adult learners are expected to move from one course to another over a period of time. Most adult learners are enrolling for online courses because they want to improve their employment status. This is because, academic qualifications is among the determinant factors for promotion at the workplace. Since learning is influenced by the need to change, the adult learning theories play an important role in assisting instructors to understand their students and develop a meaningful and productive learning experience or outcome (Cercone, 2008).
In the contemporary society where there is a focus on androgyny shift, more women are taking affirmative action that include, for instance, seeking education to improve their status in the society. Consequently, more women are taking advantage of technological advancement to study online. In essence, virtual classrooms provide women with a favourable learning atmosphere where there is minimal discomfort associated with gender stereotype in the institutions of higher learning. However, while female adult learners feel more comfortable studying online, there is also a challenge with regard to their psychological safety that cannot be guaranteed by most of the technologies used for e-learning. On the other end of the spectrum, gender plays a role in shaping individuals opportunities such as seeking education, raising family and job placement (Garland & Martin, 2005).
However, the construction of gender also places limitations to what an individual can accomplish in life. For instance, gender rules tend to limit the ambition of women as evident in the small number of women in executive positions. These limitations are also evident in computing and technology where a significant number of women tend to avoid these areas. This has affected their study online that can help to improve their educational standing in the society. In the world where roles are shifting, women are becoming more independent, and this drives their desire to seek ways on how they can empower themselves (Garland & Martin, 2005).
There are many online courses today that targets women who are eager to join the job market. In the society today, education is necessary for persons who want to improve their living standards. This is because, the higher the academic qualifications that an individual possess, the greater the chance of securing employment opportunities in the job market. Due to a focus on gender rules that have continued to recognize male dominance in the society, women on their part have shied away from top positions in the job market. As such, studying online provide female adult learners with the opportunity to upgrade their academic qualification in a safe environment where they cannot be discouraged by their male counterparts (Garland & Martin, 2005).
Culture has an impact on the education systems embraced in different parts of the globe. While there are countries that prefer a learner -centered learning style, others prefer a lecture -centered learning style. However, globalization has contributed to a focus on cultural diversity and different countries across the globe are beginning to focus on an interactive learning style. Conversely, adult learners who study online are affected by language barrier, particularly for non-English speaking adult learners. As a result, there is a need for non-English speaking adult learners to be given special assistance to ensure equal participation. Further, there is a need for diversity in the instructional design to enhance the participation of non-English speaking adult learners who study online. In essence, diversity is necessary for accommodating cultural differences and improving learning experience for both native and international adult learners studying online (Liu et al., 2010).
Cited literature concerning adult learners studying online provides important insights of how culture influences adult learners’ experiences. Culture is seen to have an impact on how teaching and learning need to be conducted online to avoid conflicts or frustrations among adult learners. The issues that affect adult learners studying online are almost similar to those in the traditional classroom consisting of culturally and linguistically diverse learners. In this sense, studying online for adult learners need to be viewed in the same manner as the formal learning situation. Consequently, instructors should focus more on practical issues that are inherent in culturally diverse groups of learners (Liu et al., 2010).
Online instructors need to be sensitive on cultural issues as a way of developing inclusive learning strategies. Further, most of the cited literature on culture and studying online focuses on the need for an instructional design that is culturally constructed and reflects on the needs of the adult learners. The features of academic culture associated with adult learners who are native speakers, for instance, may strike other learners who are not native speakers and from other cultures as alien. Among the issues that elicit concerns include educational values, reasoning patterns, knowledge acquisition, communication and technological concerns. Other cultural issues associated with adult learners studying online involve the conflicting perceptions eminent in learners from high- context versus low- context societies. As such, a cross-cultural instruction that focuses, for example, on intention, interaction and introspection is necessary to enhance the learning experience of adult learners from different cultural backgrounds. Intentional approach to learning ensures that the instructor develops an impartial training program (Liu et al., 2010).
On the other hand, interaction as a parameter for learning encourages the instructor to focus on a collaborative process with the adult learners. Introspection on part of the instructors ensures that they consider their values and beliefs in the culture represented in the instruction. On the contrary, related literature also suggest some barriers that impacts on the development of an o instructional design that is culturally sensitive. Such barriers as discussed in related literature include over emphasis on content development rather than context, lack of focus on real-world practice and limited freedom for designers to develop a culturally sensitive instruction. In this regard, developing a culturally sensitive instruction for adult learners studying online require a focus on learner-centered needs and being flexible in the design process. Further, it is important for the designers of the training program to view culture as a critical component of the design process (Liu et al., 2010).
Critical analysis of the major characteristics affecting adult learners in an online learning environment
Skepticism regarding facts and assumptions related to adult learners and online learning
While the educational landscape has changed with the increase of adult learners studying online; there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed to improve their learning experience. It is plausible that studying online is ideal for adult learners who have to juggle with other roles that include work and raising families, for instance. This is because; it enables adult learners to plan their schedules accordingly and to avoid conflict of roles while pursuing further studies. Further, studying online allows adult learners to enroll for courses not available within their locality. The geographical distance from institutions of higher learning requires adult learners to look for other alternatives of pursuing education such as distance learning. Consequently, studying online is ideal because it allows adult learners to attend virtual classroom and obtain the same content similar to learners attending the traditional classroom setting. However, while studying online is ideal for adult learners who have other tight schedules to meet; it requires self-discipline and motivation to achieve the intended goal (Swan, 2004).
Compared to the conventional education, studying online is learner centered and thus the need for the adult learner to control the learning environment. This means that, the adult learner needs to be self-directed in terms of taking the initiative to develop the training plan with the online instructor, a task that is often difficult due to other commitment unrelated to education. On the other hand, since studying online is a new phenomenon, adult learners may experience challenges in terms of adjusting to the virtual classrooms since they are accustomed to conventional education where the learning process is lecture-centered. As such, adult learners who study e online expect their instructor to take an active role in providing assistance in the learning process. However, this is impossible because in a virtual classroom, the instructor uses technology platforms such as video conferencing and may not attend to their needs physically. As a result, it is important for adult learners who study online to take an active role in ensuring that they improve their learning experience. This involves taking the time to learn how to use the computer and internet that are the basic tools for facilitating online learning. They also need to improve their interaction with other adult learners as a way of sharing ideas on how to improve their learning experience (Swan, 2004).
Distinguishing facts from opinions
Compared to children and adolescent, adult learners already know what they want to achieve in life and thus are in a better position to control the learning process. The instructor on his or her part should endeavor to understand the needs of adult learners and adjust accordingly. Since this group of learners already has an education background, their interest in seeking further studies is influenced by the need to improve their employment standing. As such, the learning process needs to be more practical in terms of addressing real issues related to their careers. This means that instructors need to develop training programs that integrate experience and new knowledge that can help adult learners to develop new meanings related to the current changes in their careers (Dabagh, 2007).
Examining prejudices, behaviors and expectations
On another note, there are other factors that can affect the learning process of adults who study online. For example, most of the adult learners studying online have stayed for a longer period without any form of education. This can affect their learning process because they need to adjust to a new method of instruction that is learner-centered, and with minimal assistance from their instructor. On the other hand, the instructor also needs to understand such challenges and design a program that ensures struggling adult learners do not give up or lose interest in the learning process. Most instructors involved in online learning tends to assume that adult learners are conversant with what they intend to learn which is untrue since some of them have not received any form of education and may require close supervision. Whilestudying online is convenient for adult learners, the disparity that exists in terms of technological advancement across regions still hinders efficient and effective learning process (Dabagh, 2007).
In some regions, adult learners lack technological platforms needed for studying online. As a result, they rely on reading materials sent by their instructors through mediums such as emails and struggling or slow learners may have difficulties understanding such content. For instance, studying online in the western world is more advanced compared to the development world that still lags behind in terms of embracing technology. In such a case, it may be wise for adult learners to seek other alternatives such as part-time studies in institutions of higher learning within their locality. The cost of studying online is also expensive in regions that still struggle with the use of technology and this decreases the number of adult learners who intend to study online. The experiences adult learners have gone through while attending the conventional education may also affect their interest to study online. Most of them may resist a situation where the instructor is authoritative in the learning process, for instance. In this regard, online learning for adult learners needs to be interactive as a way of enhancing learning process (Swan, 2004).
Challenging hegemonic thinking
The related literature posits that adult learners are more practical, they want to relate the learning process with their past experiences and explore ways of improving such experiences. As such, the instructor is required to provide a platform for exploring new ideas and involving adult learners’ input in the learning process. However, while online study advances the need for adult learners to take charge of the learning process, the instructor is still the dominant figure in the learning process. Without the full participation of the instructor in the learning process, adult learners may not achieve their intended goals. Since most of the adult learners are aged between 25 to 50years old, they may want to be treated as equals in the learning process. In this sense, the instructors often find themselves in a compromising situation where they are forced to submit to the demands of their clients. The teacher-student approach is still necessary to enhance the quality of learning for adults who study online. Further, it is also important for instructors to challenge adult learners beyond their level of ability because their involvement in further studies should focus on increasing their cognitive capabilities (Cobb, 2015).
Concerning cultural issues, studying online for adult learners is a global phenomenon and individuals from different parts of the world are enrolling for the same courses. However, a challenge emerges in terms of the language used that can improve the participation of every person in the learning process. Most of the training programs are designed in the developed countries such as the UK and U.S where English is the standard language for instructions. Conversely, some of the adult learners from other countries use other languages for their instructions. As a result, there is need to introduce programs that train learners who consider, for instance, English as a second language. This can help to improve their reading and comprehension needed for active participation in the learning process. On another note, adult learners who study online can benefit from a focus on cultural diversity, however; this is not forthcoming at the moment due to lack of inclusivity. In this sense, instructors need to consider the values and beliefs of adult learners from other cultures to make the learning process more interactive (Liu et al., 2010).
The education systems across the globe are dissimilar and as such, the instructor’s knowledge of other cultures is critical in ensuring that the instructional design is inclusive in terms of integrating the needs of adult learners from other cultural backgrounds. Further, comparing instructional methods in the western world versus the third world, there is a difference in the sense that one side emphasizes a learner-centered approach while the other focuses on a teacher-centered approach. As a result, adult learners from the western world are in a position to adjust quickly to the learning process compared to learners from the developing world. In this regard, it is necessary for the instructors to take a greater role in assisting their learners to adjust to the new approach of learning. Conversely, there are education systems around the world that are reluctant to embrace distance learning and they focus more on the formal education. This has created a trend in some countries where online study is taken lightly and in some instances, not recognized.Rather, they prefer courses offered locally in colleges and other institutions of higher learning because they are more recognized by the education system and employers respectively (Swan, 2004).
On another note, comparing learning environments in traditional classroom and virtual classroom, the experience derived in formal learning is still superior. This is because, as a learner, it is important to be dependent on knowledge provided by an experienced professional rather than control the learning process. In addition, the learner can consult the instructor in a face to face interaction and this makes the learning process more fulfilling compared to studying online where sometimes the adult learners only rely on audio feedbacks and required to process the information on their own. Further some adult learners may have special needs and this requires personal attention from the instructor which is challenging to provide through an online platform. Also, for instructors to properly understand adult learners, it is important that they interact with them face to face. Virtual meetings are not profound like face to face meeting where it is possible to learn and understand each person’s views or concerns. As such, while studying online is convenient for adult learners, there is a need to integrate it with formal learning to improve the quality of the learning process (Swan, 2004).
Further, adult learners need to have an idea of what they want to study as a way of making the process worthwhile. In essence, distance learning is suitable for adult learners who can grasp concepts quickly since it can be intensive due to the minimal time allocated to complete a particular course. On another note, while education in the contemporary society is more liberal, the courses offered online for adult learners should be restricted to recognized institutions that can design appropriate programs to meet the needs of adult learners who study online. Allowing programs for adult learners to be designed by anyone can dilute the quality of learning and impact negatively on the credentials earned by the adult learners. Most instructors involve adult learners in the developing their training programs. However, it is not clear how this process takes place or who makes the last decision (Cercone, 2008).
Since instructors are the qualified professionals to develop the training programs, involving the adult learner in the process can undermine the instructor’s ability to develop a proper training program. In addition, where the adult learner is involved in designing the training program, they appear to have a greater control in the learning process and this tends to impede on the instructor’s ability to explore new ideas that can improve the learning process. As such, while adult learners often want to be treated as equals, it is important to allow the instructor to develop the training program since they have the required expertise. Further, while adults learners tend to be more practical compared to children and adolescent learners, it is still necessary to use the recognized curriculum rather than using unorthodox instruction methods. For example, adult learners may challenge the use of theories that do not reflect on real life experiences. However, it is still necessary for instructors to use such theories in their lessons because they are part of the curriculum developed for learners across the board. Also, learning needs to be standardized to ensure that what is taught by instructors both in traditional and nontraditional setting meet the current demands of the globalized education sector (Dabagh, 2007).
Origins, dynamics and impacts of covert and overt power relationships between adult learners
Various theories have been cited in the literature that can be applied to adult learners. These include experiential learning, self-directed learning and transformative learning. While experiential learning postulates for a focus on new and past knowledge, most adult learners are not open about their experiences and the direction they want to take and this tends to leave the instructor in an awkward situation. Most adult learners are reserved and may not be willing to open up regarding their educational challenges, for instance. While adult learners yearn for new knowledge, this knowledge is also intertwined with their past experience and they seek new ideas to help them tackle future challenges in their careers. This requires adult learners to share their views and generate alternatives that are appropriate to deal with future challenges. As such, proper guidance from their instructors is a necessity (Richmond & Cummings, 2005).
Concerning transformative learning, education is about change, and adult learners enroll for further studies to improve their world view in a rapidly changing environment. Through a focus on transformative learning, adult learners can develop new meanings of the world and how they relate to their counterparts in the same learning group. Concerning gender issues in online learning for adult learners, women tend to take a passive role rather than being open with their concerns in the group (Richmond & Cummings, 2005).Most women appear to sideline themselves because they lack knowledge concerning the use of computing technology and the fear of being criticized by their male counterparts in the group. This makes the learning process difficult for female adult learners since they need more time to develop self-confidence and be more assertive in the learning process (Garland & Martin, 2005).
Asking why and how about adult learners who study online
While education is important in terms of shaping the careers of adult learners, some issues also emerge regarding why and how the learning experience for adults can be improved. This is a group of learners who have other commitments and may not have adequate time to access quality education similar to students in the formal education. As such, the learning experience for adult learners should be improved because a number of gaps still exist in other alternatives they can use to further their education such as distance learning. This includes, for example, lack of technical know-how needed to facilitate the learning process, high costs and shortage of qualified trainers. This brings into focus how studying online for adult learners can be improved to increase their enrollment. In this sense, the factors that need to be considered include institutions creating awareness on the use of computing technology and internet before students join the job market. There is also a need for more institutions to introduce distance learning in their curriculum to increase the number of institutions offering online study for adult learners thus helping to minimize the costs charged. It is also important for institutions of higher learning to train more tutors as a way of addressing the shortage of instructors to support adult learners who study online (Swan, 2004).
In comparing conventional education and studying online, the latter still needs improvement to ensure that adult learners who study online receive quality education. Technology has changed more rapidly and learners have access to reading materials online which they can use to improve their learning experience. However, traditional classrooms still offer learners the best chance to receive quality education. Teachers are in a better position to use various teaching strategies that ensure learners grasp what they are teaching. On the contrary, online instructors mostly provide learners with reading materials and rarely intervene to help struggling learners (Wanga et al., 2008).
The time taken for online instruction is also limited compared to the conventional education where instructors have ample time to listen to the concerns raised by students. From personal experience, most online learners are not adept with the use of online learning platforms, and this tends to affect their learning. In other instances, the regions where they reside lacks network connectivity and this means that they cannot access platforms such as video conferencing or chat rooms that require internet connectivity. In addition, there is more focus on individualism and learners are reluctant to share their ideas and experiences necessary to improve the learning process especially for struggling learners (Huang, 2002).
Most of the adult learners who study online belong to the working class and thus have limited time to interact with other learners who may be in need of assistance. As such, in order to improve the learning process for learners who study online, it is necessary for the instructor to take an active role in the entire process similar to the roles taken by instructors in conventional education (Huang, 2002). I have once enrolled for an online course and the experience was not positive because I faced a number of challenges. The course I enrolled for was freelance writing and I interacted with my instructor every fortnight on Skype, but in most occasions the communication was poor due to network issues. As a result, my instructor reverted to sending reading materials which were not easy to grasp on my own. The cost charged for the course was also high and I had to pay it in installments. In the end, I was forced to drop out because I could not cope on my own without the help of my instructor who I could not reach most of the time due to connectivity issues.
Studying online for adult learners is a new phenomenon that has completely changed the educational landscape which previously focused solely on formal learning. As a result of a competitive job market, individuals are forced to seek further education as a way of improving their employment status. However, due to their tight schedules, they are not in a position to attend normal classes. As such, adult learners who study online are in a position to combine study and work. On the other hand, while formal learning is teacher centered, studying online for adult learners appears to be learner centered. Tough, the characteristics of adult learners who study online tend to affect the learning process. For instance, they prefer to learn in atmosphere where their freedom is not disrupted and treated as equals. However, this may affect their instructor’s ability to use his or her expertise in enhancing the learning process. Other issues that may affect adult learners who study online include gender and cultural issues. For example, while more female adult learners are embracing online learning, gender rules still restrict them from realizing their potentials. On the other hand, studying online for adult learners to an extent is not culturally sensitive and as such, diversification is necessary to enhance equal participation for adult learners.
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