Improving Online Learning Design for Employed Adult Learners




Work-integrated education, Employed adult learners, Online learning design, Online learning


With the growing need for developing competence at workplaces, the number of employed adult learners is increasing in higher education institutions to follow continuing education. Often they are educated and treated as traditional students. To satisfy the learning demands of employed learners, work-integrated education has emerged to spotlight the importance of the integration of work and education in contemporary education. Many studies show that employed adult learners have different and more complex ways of learning compared to traditional students. Furthermore, employed adult learners have lacked the attention of researchers and educators to enhance their learning in general and online learning in particular. Meanwhile, online learning is a preferred way for learners who work and study in tandem. This study aims to make the online learning design for employed adult learners more effective and adaptable to their circumstances by asking the research question “How can online learning design for employed adult learners be improved?”. The case study of a course for employed adult learners was examined with a mixed method approach including interview and learning analytics. The interview data laid the groundwork for developing assumptions and hypotheses for the examination of employed adult learners’ learning patterns. Learning analytics consist of data visualization, which revealed employed adult learners’ learning patterns, and statistical tests, which inspected the validity and reliability of the patterns revealed by the log data. The log data were extracted from the learning management system, which recorded the educational activities of the learners during the course. This study exposed the pitfalls of the learning design including average to low engagement not only in learning but also in the course. As a result, the indicators to improve the online learning design for employed adult learners comprise investing in learning materials and increasing online interaction to fortify learner engagement in the course, thereby enhancing course completion. The indicators are viewed as the first step in the process of developing a proper and effective online learning design for employed adult learners. Finally, the reflection on online interaction for employed adult learners is also discussed.