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Pedagogy Vs Andragogy In eLearning: Can You Tell The Difference?

Should you follow the same Instructional Design processes and apply the same learning strategies to all of your eLearning courses, regardless of the age of your audience? Do adults and children learn the same way? Certainly not. In this article, I’ll delve into the debate of Pedagogy vs Andragogy in eLearning clarifying the differences between the two concepts, so that you will be able to understand the respective challenges of each and create highly motivating eLearning projects for both your young and adult learners.
Pedagogy Vs Andragogy In eLearning: Can You Tell The Difference?

5 Differences Of Pedagogy Vs Andragogy In eLearning 

The terms “andragogy” and “pedagogy” are of Greek origin, both including the Greek verb “ago”, which means “guide”, and the Greek words “andras” (man) and “paidi” (child) respectively. Thus:

Pedagogy = paidi (child) + ago (guide)

Andragogy = andras (man) + ago (guide)

You can conclude from the above that pedagogy is a child-focused teaching approach, whereas andragogy an adult-focused teaching approach; or, formally, pedagogy is the art and science of helping kids learn, whereas andragogy is the art and science of helping adults learn.

Before 1950, all research was focused on children and there wasn't much evidence about how adults learn. The term "andragogy", although known since 1833 when the German Alexander Kapp used it to refer to a theory of Plato, practically in modern education appears only after the early 1960s, that was used to express the distinct characteristics of adult learners that affect not only their learning motivation, but also their learning ability, compared to those of children. For Instructional Designers knowing these differences is critical, as engaging and motivating adult learners is certainly a challenging art. In this article, I'll share the differences between andragogy and pedagogy, so that you can make sure that you know everything you need in order to create motivational content and structure whether you create eLearning courses for adults or for children.

Pedagogy Vs Andragogy: 5 Main Differences

  1. Learning behavior.
    Adult learners are self directed; they have control over their learning experience and they are 100% responsible for their own learning. They are also deeply involved not only in planning, but also in evaluating their learning, as they know what knowledge they want to acquire. On the contrary, young learners are not self-directed; they still depend on their teachers throughout the learning process. Therefore, their teachers should be responsible not only of what will be taught, but also of how it will be taught and evaluated.
  2. The role of learners’ experience.
    Adult learners have clearly more experience than young learners. Their experience becomes the main resource of both their learning and the personal identity they have developed, as the richer and more diverse their experience, the more the diversity they can bring to their own learning. Young learners, on the other hand, present little personal experience by default, and so it is impossible for this experience to serve as a learning resource; it can be only used to build upon.
  3. Orientation to learning.
    What kind of knowledge adult learners are most interested in? Naturally, adult learners seek information that is useful in their personal lives and work environment. This audience demands that their learning is relevant to their real life issues, problems, and tasks, and that their education will boost their performance levels and help them live their lives in a better, and more satisfying way. Young audience’s learning, on the contrary, is subject centered, mearning that the subject determines the sequence according to which the learning content units will be presented and taught.
  4. Readiness to learn.
    Adult learners’ readiness to learn can be triggered by literally anything; a sudden change in their lives, a need for dealing with life tasks and problems more successfully, the desire for self-improvement and self-development, and so on. Adults need to know why to learn something; as soon as they answer this question, they are ready to start. Children, on the other hand, are usually told what to learn; the reason behind their learning is developing their skills to achieve the next level of mastery.
  5. Motivation for learning.
    What motivates adults to find time for their learning in their busy schedule? Mostly intrinsic motivators; self-esteem, self-confidence, desire for better quality of life, curiosity, self-development, and recognition are only a few factors that motivate adult learners to learn. Needless to say, intrinsic incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic ones, and thus adult learners, more often than not, are more satisfied with the learning process, more focused, more persistent, and more eager to apply their knowledge more frequently and successfully than younger learners. On the other hand, children and teenagers are mostly motivated by extrinsic factors, such as getting good grades or other perks, or avoiding the consequences of failure.

It is clear that andragogy can be highly motivational, as adult learners are more goal oriented than younger learners; this is why offering them meaningful learning experiences can make a real difference in achieving learning outcomes.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the pedagogy vs andragogy debate, you may be interested in learning how to apply the principles of adult learning to your eLearning deliverable. Read the article 9 Tips To Apply Adult Learning Theory to eLearning and find out how to integrate 4 principles of andragogy into your eLearning course for maximum engagement and motivation of your adult audience.

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