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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.


Learn More About Digital Promise's Adult Learner Model

Posted on 02/10/2021

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We know that our schools are full of students who are different from one another, who bring different experiences and abilities with them to class. However, in our efforts to reach all learners, we often fall short and end up only reaching a small number of students by teaching to the middle.

Digital Promise's Learner Variability Project (LVP) attempts to address this ongoing challenge by synthesizing learning sciences research into learning factors and strategies that educators can use when designing classroom instruction. The LVP has created a number of models for elementary, secondary, and adult learners, each of which enables an educator to understand how the factors and strategies are connected in order to create lessons that will better support learners.

The Adult Learner Model begins with three key themes:

  • Adults need a variety of 21st century foundational skills to survive and thrive.
  • Adults must see the benefits of learning tasks to fully engage.
  • Engaging in lifelong learning activities is interconnected with general well-being.

The Factors which are critical to adult learner success are divided into four areas: Adult Literacies, Cognition, Social and Emotional Learning, and Learner Background. When you hover over one Factor, you can see other Factors that are related; for example, when hovering over Vision, you can see other Factors like Attention, Visual Processing, Emotion, and Safety light up as well. Each Factor has a profile to learn more about it and will again show related Factors. Moving to Strategies, you can first select the Factor [or Factor and related Factor(s)] to filter the relevant Strategies. Like each Factor, each Strategy has a profile, along with Resources that could be more examples, research, and tools, depending on the Strategy.

One additional feature is by creating an account on the LVP site, you can create a workspace that will store your findings, so you don't lose track of your work. The workspace is collaborative so you can share your work with your colleagues.

Visit the Adult Learner Model webpage to get started, as well as view this introductory video.

Article: The Adult Learner: Understanding Their Variability to Customize Their Learning from Digital Promise

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.