How Does The Adult Learning Theory Apply To Online Learners

Use context to stay up to date while keeping your course online. Here’s how.

I first fell in love with web development when my wife returned from college for a different field of study. I was so impressed with the new tech tools that she had created. I learned to code and it became one of my favorite projects in college. I continued to code throughout my life, became a director of my own company and often code for other organizations. Even now, my most popular project is my website.

When I ask people if they think there is anything they should know when it comes to learning the latest coding techniques and making the leap into technical support, their minds immediately light up. However, I always get asked “What is the difference between online and offline coding?” A few people my age have been doing this for decades, yet the online learning model is still new to many others.

As someone who started out as an “incubator”—early in their careers in education—it is important for me to set the record straight on the education theories that are sometimes related to web development. When it comes to skills, it’s all about what skills you have to bring to the table.

Online skills and offline skills

Most people think that learning online will give you more technical skills than when you pick up your paper diploma and a notebook. In fact, that is not the case. As an example, I do a lot of very technical work with tech companies. The vast majority of my work—being exposed to each new kind of tool is done as an online class. When it comes to planning and implementing technical projects, or writing content for a website, that will still be done in the traditional classroom. However, learning those skills online will give you access to faster learning and faster feedback, without the cost of a traditional education.

Unfortunately, too often, online learning isn’t the right fit for all learners. A good analogy here is to kindle a fire. We want to build an inferno because we want to create a place where computers are thriving. However, that doesn’t mean that everything else has to die. In fact, in order to do that, the project has to incorporate a layer of permanence.

We need to build it into the user experience. That is, you cannot be able to browse around, determine what you need and then go look for it later. You have to open up the documents and the server that is gathering data, look for it and then you are off and running.

There is more to learning online

If you take away all the glitz and glamour, there are still a lot of things you need to learn about online learning. The long-term development of Web development tools is one. Similarly, there is no easy way to write a good introduction to programming. Just like in the real world, there are many different levels of technical knowledge required to become a successful developer. More often than not, it is in the middle where you’ll find a lot of great opportunities.

The newer tools in the online learning ecosystem, like MOOCs, are one area where you can build lifelong skills. Even if you don’t understand coding at first, learning about the underlying theories that support it will allow you to start to craft your own thinking and practice. What does this mean for you? It means that instead of trying to build IT skills as you work your way up the tech ladder, maybe you should be looking at the steps you need to take to build some knowledge. It’s always more valuable to be a good beginner than an exceptional builder.

As an online skills coach I can help you put the puzzle pieces of your development journey together. You don’t have to be an IT pro, but you do need to have some general foundation knowledge first. Once you know the core skills you need to become an IT pro, you can take the steps to obtain these, while also building the technical know-how you have been missing.

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