Adult Learning In the Digital World

Learning Objectives

  • Understand adult learning in the digital world and reflect on how digital literacy is crucial in teaching and learning.
  • [5]Incorporate a personal philosophy of learning into the design of instructional strategies for teaching in a variety of learning environments.
  • [6]Explore, experience and analyze various instructional strategies and their relationship to individual differences, and experiential learning.

Key Takeaways

  • Develop an understanding of digital citizenship and how it applies to adult learners.
  • Recognize the importance of maintaining an online presence with what is considered appropriate behavior.
  • Technology can be a friend.


Digital Citizenship

Today, technology has integrated itself into our everyday lives.  The use of a personal computer, smartphones, smart TVs, social media, collaboration tools, and communication applications, has us surrounded by digital activity. But, there are those who have not accessed the wide array of technology that is available.  Age, socioeconomic status, or simply refusal to join the digital world, can all cause a disconnect with the necessity of digital citizenship.  Individuals who embrace technology use should be introduced to the 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship. According to Ribble (2007), “Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use”. [1]

The 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship are defined as:

1. Digital Etiquette – set of standards of behavior much like proper dinner etiquette
2. Digital Communication – digital exchange of information, communicating ideas and information through electronic means
3. Digital Literacy – teaching and learning technology and its use
4. Digital Access – fully participating in society when it comes to technology
5. Digital Commerce – buying and selling goods electronically, purchasing online, selling online
6. Digital Law – knowing the responsibility of digital usage law, including copyright and fair use, theft, hacking, etc.
7. Digital Health and Wellness – recognizing the physical, emotional, and psychological implications to a person’s well-being in regards to technology
8. Digital Security – knowing how to be safe and protect the information, as well as how to implement preventative methods to avoid threats.
9. Digital Rights and Responsibilities – online citizen rights, such as privacy, freedom of speech, etc.


Were you given the golden rule to follow as a child? “Treat others as you would want to be treated.”  This appropriate behavior for children and adults applies to an online presence as well. In Virginia Shea’s book, Netiquette, Ms. Shea provides core rules for maintaining an online presence with proper etiquette. It boils down to having proper etiquette both in-person and online. You can view her rules here.



Technology CAN be your Friend

Some students are fearful or reluctant to using technology. It is important to ease the discomfort of these students because technology is here to stay and it should be embraced in appropriate contexts.  Unless of course, you plan on living off the grid in the woods of Maine, you will someday encounter a situation in which computer/technology skills will come in handy.

Tips to make technology your friend:

  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. All mistakes can be undone (unless you are working in a rocket science lab or sending someone to the moon). Pay attention to your mistakes. Most of the time mistakes are how we learn to be better.
  2. Explore new FREE technology available on the web. This technology may or may not require you to create an account but even if it does, most of them are free.
  3. Remember, no one expects you to be an expert. Playing around on internet applications does not require you to learn to write code. Coders create applications that allow you to use the interface without expertise. Most are intuitive.
computer - workspace - code
Photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash

  1. Ribble, M. (2007). In Digital Citizenship, Using Technology Appropriately. (chap. The 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship). Retrieved July 24, 2018, from


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Teaching and Learning in Adulthood by Tracy Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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