Getting adult learners to engage with learning technology
Julie Wedgewood, an independent technology supported learning specialist, spoke to attendees of the Learning Technologies 2013 exhibition about moderating online learning communities.
Wedgewood said: "You only need a single spark to help people think differently about their learning. To get to the adult learner who thinks they know what learning is you need something unexpected, you need to include discovery and for it to be fun. In order to get them to engage with learning technology, it needs to be technology led, with cyclical programmes."
An attendee of the Training Journal Learning eXchange commented about mindset. Wedgewood said that "business leaders think they understand how training works. There is a conspiracy of experience. They have experienced training, which is out of date. The more senior the people, the more out of date with technology they usually are."
Another delegate asked about creating learning communities. Wedgewood advised that: "I don't see them as something necessarily permanent. When moderating online communities, you need three things: purpose, passion, and people. If you have the first two, you will get the people. You can't dump people into a learning community and expect them to know what to do. Learning communities need to transfer from learning to the workplace community." Wedgewood also referred to the 1964 Bruce Tuckman model of group work to help people understand their online communities.
Wedgewood continued with how to work inside an online community. "The moderator has to know their subject, have a mindset of wanting to share and understand they are not there to dominate. That will kill the community.
"Be friendly but stay professional and follow this for moderating online communities: review content, including previous posts for context; reflect on the person's motivation, what people are learning from, will this stimulate further discussion?; respond appropriately, including moving off-line if this may stir up politics or harm someone's career."
When focusing on what to do in order for the moderator to support people, Wedgewood had the following advice: "Stay silent, another person might answer; suggest - not answer, but ask 'where can you look? Have you tried Google?'
"Signpost, link to something but still don't answer. Silence and suggest mean other members of the community might come back with information and this stimulates conversation."
She added: "Keep the community stimulated: feed, weed and seed. Acknowledge, attribute, amplify. Round up the daily or weekly the top five things, added into the knowledge base, with the links; curate the knowledge; expert knowledge comes out from a trigger situation. For the 'not me' of learning technology, the link every week will eventually entice them."
One eXchange attendee was worried about an over eager community member. Wedgewood's advice was a "face to face chat".
"We like communities because of the feel good factor that creates a sticky community. Grownups still have a desire for reward. Acknowledge their contribution. In a social community, as moderator, highlight something that's really good. This is the 21st century, you are what you share," she concluded.
Julie Wedgewood took part in the Learning and Skills eXchange run by TJ and our partner Towards Maturity.