Adult Learner

Systems Change
Adult Learner > Strategies > Explicit Instruction: Computer Basics

Explicit Instruction: Computer Basics


In an increasingly digital world, adults who struggle with using technology can benefit from direct instruction for an array of digital tools. This type of instruction, which supports Digital Literacy, includes understanding the basic functions of computer hardware (trackpads, monitors, and USB components) and navigating basic digital functions (setting up email accounts, using search engines, starting files). Adults who are explicitly taught how to use digital technology often show improvements in Composition skills and Disciplinary Literacy, specifically when using technology for health purposes. One-on-one direct instruction tailored to the learner is most effective.

Use It In Your Learning Environment

During periods of direct instruction, instructors should explicitly teach the components of basic computer skills. Instructors should have access to technology to walk learners through the individual process as they model and discuss the different skills. Instructors should be cautious of using technical jargon that can exacerbate negative Emotions surrounding computer use with adults, especially with the elderly. It is also important to convey that in order to keep up with technological advances, it is essential to develop a Learner Mindset with a willingness and ability to learn new technologies. So, elderly learners may benefit from both direct instruction and mentoring to foster continued interest and Motivation.

Explicit lessons can be done in person or virtually through a variety of learning platforms. Virtual lessons can include instructor-created slideshow presentations, videos, and audio files that walk learners through the different processes in easy-to-access formats. Directions for access should be clearly explained and modeled. These lessons should be stored to allow on-demand access for frequent rehearsal. This practice helps learners retain information into Long-term Memory and can help learners troubleshoot when they are using digital tools in real-time. Products should include chat and comment features to allow learners to interact with instructors, particularly when they have questions or concerns.