As education utilizes web-based learning as a method in the delivery of instruction, the issues of self-directed learning and participant digital literacy become concerns to make the technology effective.
Self-directed online learning is useful in Adult Education as the information being presented can be designed to accommodate the life style of adults. Adults can work on materials as it fits their schedule, review materials if needed, materials can be constructed and bite sized chunks as opposed to lengthy sets of information, and materials can be organized based on levels of skills. Song and Hill (2007), summarize existing research into adult self-directed learning in online environments. Research indicates that self-directed learning is a process that is unique to different individuals. As such, online materials need to be developed to accommodate various learning styles and levels of background knowledge.
While there are many resources to facilitate digital literacy in Adult Education (10 digital literacy resources for teachers) an instructor may need to survey their class to determine the digital literacy skills of the participants and be prepared to customize materials for a particular class. This can be a concern in that instructors often assume that students are digital literate but that may not be the case. The question then becomes who will teach the digital literacy skills required to learn the course materials (Burrell, 2016).
It is important for instructors to consider teaching through taking advantage of digital technologies as ways of presenting educational materials. This requires the instructor to be knowledgeable in building digital content and the means of sharing it. The other task is for instructors to realize that the course is for the students and to be able to determine the student skills and support self-directed learners. Developing an assessment tool that would identify a student’s digital literacy skills early in a course would provide the instructor both an index of what type of materials would be best received as well as if the students are able to utilize the materials.
Song & Hill, 2007 http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/6.1.3.pdf