New Learning Opportunities for Adult Learners
The concept of adults as learners emerged both in this country and in Europe shortly after World War I; however, only in the last few decades has the theory of adult learning matured. Knowles, Tough, Houle, and Park, among others, have written extensively on the idea of the adult learner. In Tennant's book (1997), he discussed Knowles' adult learning theory. Knowles used the term andragogy to label adult learning theory. The andragogical model of the adult learner is based on the assumptions that adults need to know; adults have a need to be self-directed learners and have a self-concept of being responsible for their own decisions and for their own lives; adults bring reservoirs of their own experiences that posed as a significant resources in the process of learning; adults come ready and motivated to learn what they need to know in order to cope; and while adults are aware of external motivators (better jobs, promotions), it is internal pressures (job satisfaction, self-esteem) that are the most powerful motivators (Tennant, 1997).
While adult learners are constantly seeking specific information and knowledge that is relevant to their immediate problems, and are aware that they would benefit from further education, many are not interested in a standard long-term course of study. They do not have the time or energy to become involved in a traditional education system, and their concerns are context-dependent, focused on specific information relevant to their immediate concerns (Tennant, 1997). Given this information, it is natural that educators look to this relatively new phenomenon technology, namely, the Internet for Web-based learning opportunities.
The World Wide Web (WWW) provides new opportunities to deliver instruction over the Internet. The Web, when combined with other network tools, can be used to create a virtual classroom to bring together a community of learners for interactive education. It is a popular and useful instructional medium for a number of reasons. It is easily accessible, it supports flexible storage and display options, it provides a simple yet powerful publishing format and a means to incorporate multiple media elements (Henke,1997). The possibilities of Web-based instructions are boundless and seems to have the potential to meet the needs of adult learners.
The WWW can provide stimulating material to enhance and enrich the learning experience by using graphics, sound, video and virtual environments. It supports learning in 'own space, own pace, and own time' (Henke,1997). It has limitless possibilities of interactive computer multimedia instruction. The potential benefits include personalized instruction, active learning, instant feedback, real world simulation, as well as faster and more effective teaching and empowerment of learners (McManus, 1995). With all these benefits, WWW as an instruction delivery medium can indeed enhance...