|This flow chart by Karrie Augustine and Anne Pushkal shows how a trigger event leads an adult to initiate learning or decide against taking action. (Augustine & Pushkal 2015)|
Trigger + Need to Know = Desire to Learn = ActionThe first attribute of adult learners is their realization that, or acceptance of, their need to know something (Malcolm Knowles et al, 2005, cited in, for example Ota et al, Training and Needs of Adult Learners). This is often sparked by a trigger event - something takes place that brings them to this conclusion that a gap in their knowledge needs to be addressed. Rothwell's (Adult Learning Basics ) notion of a "trigger circumstance" (p. 27) refers to "anything that leads an individual learner to recognize the importance of learning something new."
While I can imagine a situation in which people learn without realizing they are doing it or thinking they need to - going with friends to see Dangerous Liaisons, say finding afterwards they've gained an understanding of France during the 18th century - Rothwell is right to identify this realization as the first step of the learning process, since a large proportion of adult learning is intentional and deliberately undertaken. Trigger circumstances can be internal or external. An internal circumstance would be some desire: an adult realizes a lack of knowledge is keeping him or her from accomplishing something he or she wants to do, whether it's sewing on a button or becoming a lawyer. An external circumstance would be something like mandatory workplace sexual harassment training, which an employee may not have sought on his or her own but understands he or she must complete as a condition of employment.
For example, I've been pretty happily using Techsmith's Jing for screencasts. I love it- so functional and easy to use - but my work in an E-learning environment and my coursework in an instructional technology program made me increasingly dissatisfied with the inability to edit, add music, etc. I realized that not being able to edit video is holding me back from the kinds of productions I envision.
I had used Camtasia in the past and forgot how. Finding that I could have used that knowledge to good effect now has triggered me to want to learn Camtasia, Apple's Final Cut Pro, or another video editing program like iMovie, really well. Moreover, the realization that I need to up my video editing game spurred me to begin investigating the programs that are available to me and consider long-term benefit vs. immediate benefit, costs, and feasibility of learning one or another of these video editing tools.
"Knowing you have a problem is half of the solution."
If buy-in is important for adult learners, then some learning theories that would be especially useful would be Functionalistic theories, which stress not only giving learners a reason to learn but rewarding them for learning; Constructivist theories, which take into account learners' backgrounds and current situations in order to influence their learning, and Experiential theories, which privilege the role of the learner in constructing their own learning and focuses on giving them a reason to learn.
Trigger + Need to Know = Desire to Learn = Action
What video editing tools do you use? Are there any free tools you recommend?