Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Diane Bradley

An Aha Moment: Understanding Adult Learners

When I wrote Learning in the Happy Place, I focused on similar needs of adult and children learners. Essentially, we learn best when we are in a place where we feel confident and relaxed. Undoubtedly, the similarities don’t end there. However, an equally interesting, but more complex conversation for anyone responsible to train, upskill, motivate, etc. adult learners is about the many, many differences between adults and children as learners.


Conveniently, I located a chart which compares learning needs and characteristics of adults and children. The chart provides interesting and succinct observations about adult learners. The format is easy to read and drives home the differences.

I suspect that HR and training managers know that adults’ readiness to learn is directly related to need and that adults learn more slowly than children, but just as well. How this knowledge translates into a successful corporate learning program may not be so clear.

After reading the comparison chart, it became evident to me that adults need learning options. For example, a corporate learning program must provide foundational content for new hires, just-in-time content for people on the job and upskilling for seasoned workers with new tasks to complete.


Additionally, to build a successful learning program, it’s important to accommodate different learning styles. Some people like to learn in a classroom, others prefer the convenience of a virtual classroom; the “just-in-time” people need quick access to content. If the workforce is global, then anytime, anywhere access is vitally important.

What do you look for when developing a corporate learning program?

  • Excellent, comprehensive content to cover IT, end users, LoBs, etc.
  • 24X7 access for global workforce
  • Social learning for collaboration
  • Access to subject matter experts
  • Ability to practice new material
  • Assessment of new skills
  • Certification of new and updated skills

I’m sure there’s much more. In fact, I’m interested to learn what you would add to this list. What do you have to say about the points I listed?

How do you accommodate adult learners in your organization or how are you, as a learner, accomodated? What has been wildly successful for you and/or your organization?

Assigned Tags

      Be the first to leave a comment
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.