As children, we learn differently than we do as young adults. As young adults we learn differently than we do as adults. We as Kronos trainers typically focus on adult learners. All of the adults in your training classes will have different types of motivation to learn, but there are a few characteristics that they all share. In this entry, we cover these characteristics, and what makes adult learners different from any other group. 

There is a lot of writing out there regarding adult learning; most of it is very good. Most all of the work on adult learnering in some way or another relates to one "master source." The Adult Learner, by Malcolm Knowles, Elwood F. Holton III and Richard A. Swanson is in it's sixth edition and is considered the definitive manual on the study of adult education. Knowles is often referred to as the father of adult learning. If you have read this volume, you know it is somewhat dry reading, but vital to understanding adults as learners. A lot of what is out there in print, and on the internet reflects efforts to elaborate on Knowles' work, or to make it more user friendly. 

Knowles has discovered basic characteristics that all adult learners share. When we take on the task of educating these learners, these characteristics must be first and foremost in our minds:

Adults are self directed and autonomous - Adults can learn, and more importantly, want to learn on their own. Trainers who simply deliver fact is a class will quickly lose their audience. Remember, you are a facilitator. Give learners a goal in class, and guide them toward it.

Adult learners must link new learning toward previous experience - Adults have a vast amount of experience that should be taken advantage of. Linking information in the current even with a learners past experience is an excellent way of helping the learner grasp the new ideas, tasks and concepts. 

Adults are both GOAL and RELEVANCY oriented - Two things here, and both are key. As learners, adults need goals. Set specific, achieveable goals for portions of the class. Remember that the materials and instruction must be RELEVANT to the learners in your class. 

Adults are practical - The quest for knowledge is a wonderful thing, but let's take a moment for reality here. Learners are in class to learn something that pertains to their job. Focus on how the Kronos Workforce Central application will affect their jobs. How will it change what they do day-by-day, week-by-week and pay period-by-pay period?

What did Aretha Franklin spell? - R-E-S-P-E-C-T. These are adults here so treat them as such. A previous entry discussed this very thing. Be on time. Answer every question. Thank those learners who ask and answer questions. Engage them and take advantage of their work experience.

I hope most trainers out there recognize these characteristics, and are applying them in their training classes. This is only the start. How do we incorporate these characteristics? There are several different ways to accomplish this, and we will expound over the next few entries.

Please let me know if you have any great ideas. I am always interested in what is out there, and happy to share. Contact me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Good luck with your Kronos training implementation. 

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