The introduction of learning technology and the changing workplace recently increased the importance of adult learning. However, there comes the problem of motivating adult learners. There are a few things that stand in the way to motivating adults to start learning.

How To Motivate Adult Learners

Adults, unlike children, teenagers and students, in most cases, have a lot of things on their minds and your eLearning course is probably the last one of them. In addition, your adult learners don't see the rewards of their efforts as soon as they would expect, and giving them candy doesn't work as it works with children. Also, academic habits, they once possessed are also long forgotten. Least but not last, a lot of the learners are often forced to take on your eLearning course to enhance their skills, keep their job, get a job, or continue further with their career plans. All this makes it difficult to motivate learners and make them active participants.

Here are 17 Tips To Motivate Adult Learners that you might try.

  1. Create useful and relevant learning experiences based on the age group and interests of your learners
    Emphasize on the practical knowledge. It is important to design a course that provides immediate relevancy. Learning materials that can be put into practice. Adult learners appreciate more practical knowledge, rather than extraneous facts and theories.
  2. Facilitate exploration
    Even though children are famous for their exploratory nature and curiosity, adult learners, too, sometimes like to take the opportunity to construct knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them. For this reason, you should have all sorts of materials, references, infographics, short videos, lectures, podcasts and free resources available.  In such a perfect learning environment learners are more likely to get inspired or find something that makes them want to learn more.
  3. Build community and integrate social media
    Keep in mind that social media websites are a powerful tool for collaboration, commenting and sharing. You can facilitate group discussions and communities. People will quickly start exchanging knowledge, and will also have fun, social media is fun!
  4. A voice behind the video is not enough
    Add a personal touch. Your course needs to have a face. Make yourself available to people, invite subject-matter experts, authors, professors and other specialists in live online discussions and question and answer sessions.
  5. Challenge through games
    Come up with different problem solving exercises and case studies. Make your learners look for and find solutions.
  6. Use humor
    Humor would work great even with the most demotivated learners on your course. When your students know you are funny, they will listen to your material carefully, cause they wouldn't want to miss on your witty sense of humor. You can never lose with that.
  7. Chunk information
    Chunking is essential, as it helps people remember and assimilate information. Small bits are easier to process.
  8. Add suspense
    Don't give out everything your course is about in the beginning. Yes, you need an overview, but keep some interesting points until the time is right. No one likes to read a book if they know what's about to happen.
  9. Accommodate individual interests and career goals
    Empower learners to work on these goals and individualize the training to suit their needs.
  10. Stimulate your learners
    Encourage them to think by either providing them with brain teasers, or by asking thought-provoking questions.
  11. Let learning occur through mistakes
    According to a German proverb "you will become clever through your mistakes". Have you heard the famous expression: "Practice makes perfect"? Of course you have! Henry Roediger who started a learning experiment divided his students in two groups. Group A studied natural sciences paper for 4 sessions, while group B studied the same paper for one session and was tested on it three times. According to the experimenter, one week later, students from group B performed 50% better than Group A, even though they studied the paper less. The results clearly support the argument that "practice makes perfect".
  12. Make it visually-compelling
    Did you know that 83% of learning occurs visually?
  13. Get Emotional
    If you don't sound inspiring, if your materials are not exciting, how will you motivate your learners? Get them emotionally involved too – come up with controversial statements, tap on memories, add real-life stories.
  14. Get examples of their workplace
    Your learners may not always remember to associate what is learned with its application at the workplace. Sometimes they might need reminders and a clue to help them make that connection.
  15. Be respectful to them 
  16. Ask for feedback
    It is motivating to know that your opinion contributes to the course.
  17. Present the benefits of undertaking the course
    I don't know why I didn't start with this one. Sometimes outlining the benefits is all it takes.

What other tips do you believe that motivate adult learners? What motivates you as an adult learn?You may also find useful the

Highly recommended resources on How to Motivate Adult Learners

Motivating Adult Learners

I really like the following video by Ashley Odom. By wathing it you will be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is Motivation?
  • What is an Adult Learner?
  • What is the Importance of Motivation in Adult Learning? and
  • How to Motivate Adult Learners