5 Considerations of Adult Learning

There is a story where a retiring home builder was asked to build a final home. He was known for building wonderful homes with every detail precise, and his boss wanted one last house constructed before his retirement. The builder was very reluctant and agreed despairingly.

The builder did not take his time with the home, the materials were not his usual top quality and his work was sloppy. He was tired, and it showed. At the end of the construction, the boss handed the builder the keys and said, “After all your years of service, I wanted to give you this home.”

In life, we are the home and we must make choices on how we want it constructed. One of the choices many people make is to go back to school to learn a new trade or enhance their skills. Working professionals must weigh the options and determine the best learning opportunity for them. I have worked with adult learners for over 12 years and have compiled five things adults should consider:

1. Learning platform/accessibility
2. Curriculum/content
3. Customer service
4. Continued education
5. Recommendations

The learning platform is the methodology of how the information is transferred from the educator to the student. Adult learners must potentially juggle obligations with work, family, social responsibilities and personal leisure, which could get in the way of knowledge transfer. Educators today are focusing efforts on building comprehensive online learning platforms that support the working adult learner. I would look for online education opportunities, but make sure that they have a thorough onboarding process where they provide the tools for a successful learning experience.

The curriculum is key to learning outcomes. Inspect the curriculum guides, course descriptions and establish the “newness” of the content. The world is changing quickly and the education you receive today has a shelf life. Also, uncover how the content will play a role in your current job and also in your future career trajectory.

Customer service is a sign of a quality product. I have worked with many schools that have a graduation team that helps enroll you, prepare you for class and follows your success through the program. We may not want to admit it, but it may have been many years since we went to a formal class. Nerves about attending school can creep into our heads whether you are heading towards a formal degree or a professional certification. Having the best customer support will ease those nerves and lead to more successful outcomes.

Continued education is the learning opportunities available to you after your certification. Does the company providing the training have additional courses, webinars, events and other opportunities to increase your acumen? Look for companies that are experts in your niche and have a playbook of continued learning, whether formal or informal.

Finally, recommendations. In a world of online reviews, we need to be diligent consumers and hear the voices of those who came before us. Due diligence, such as reviewing websites, online review postings and other methods are essential for determining the overall student experience.

What we do today lays the foundation for tomorrow. Education, to me, is our foundation and we must build it with care.

Mark Pollack, Vice President, SIG University and Chief Strategy Officer, SIG

Mark Pollack is the Chief Strategy Officer of SIG and Vice President of SIG University and has 20 years of successful experience in change management, strategy creation and implementation, sales leadership, operational development and enhancement, business ownership, consulting and executive coaching. Mark is certified under Korn Ferry's Leadership Architect, Korn Ferry's 360 Assessment Facilitation and Interpretation; Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership; Stephan Covey’s Speed of Trust; and University of Phoenix’s Executive Development Program. He is a graduate of Sandler’s Sales Institute; Outsell Consulting and Innovators Accelerator. Mark has a Masters of Management from the University of Phoenix.