Often learning can happen when an instructor is not involved, or involved indirectly by facilitating alternative learning strategies. These strategies engage learners in the process of learning and allow organic, unencumbered learning. Adult learners benefit from training that is structured so that they can have influence on how and when the learning takes place and to ensure the learning is relevant to their work. This can be achieved by providing avenues for adult learners to choose what fits with their learning styles.Learning from Other Learners
Other learners can be great teachers. Other learners may have taken the course previously or may be within the same cohort. Often other learners can offer a perspective that is fresh and simplistic.
Study groups are an example of learning through collaborating with other learners. Study groups can be organized by a facilitator by assigning a group project or by students who want to study together in advance of a major exam or class presentation.
Learning Through Research
Learners who actively research topics to gain additional information by reading additional perspectives from authors not introduced in class can accelerate their learning. Often a topic presented in a new perspective can shed light on confusion or simplify a complex concept.
Research can be encouraged through assigning class research projects or simply by introducing research techniques to a class. A field trip to a library or a guest speaker that can demonstrate the use of a research database such as EBSCO can introduce students to a new way to learn.
Learning Through Experimentation and Simulation
Experimentation can be a very engaging form of self learning especially for kinesthetic or hands-on learners. Trail and error learning can be very effective in situations where experimentation of a process or procedure can be tested without a strain on expenses, time or resources.
Experimentation learning does not mean a lab and a white coat - but it can. Simulation exercises are examples of experimentation learning. Developing a simulation exercise that simulates a process, task or system that learners can practice as many times as they feel it is necessary is a great way to engage adult learners and customize the instruction to learning needs.
Simulations can be performed in reality or virtually. Simulation games are being used more and more in corporate training. An example of a simulation game is Celcom21, where the premise is that the learner is the CEO of a large telecommunications company and is faced with strategic decisions that could build or destroy the company. Online simulation games are also being used by university business programs to simulate the stock market and expose students to the risks and challenges of investing.
Providing alternative learning strategies enhances the learners experience by giving students ownership of the method used. Proving a rich learning environment with alternative learning choices demonstrates to learners that gaining knowledge and skill comes from the application and practice of concepts learned.