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Abstract

This case study explores how a constructivist-based instructional design helped adult learners learn in an online learning environment. Two classes of adult learners pursuing professional development and registered in a web-based course were studied. The data consisted of course documents, submitted artefacts, surveys, interviews, in-class observations, and online observations. The study found that the majority of the learners were engaged in two facets of learning. On the one hand, the instructional activities requiring collaboration and interaction helped the learners support one another's learning, from which most claimed to have benefited. On the other hand, the constructivist-based course assisted many learners to develop a sense of becoming more responsible, self-directed learners. Overall, the social constructivist style of instructional strategy seems promising to facilitate adult learning, which not only helps change learners' perceptions of the online learning, but also assists them to learn in a more collaborative, authentic and responsible way. The study, however, also disclosed that in order to maintain high-quality learning, appropriate assessment plans and adequate facilitation must be particularly reinforced. A facilitation model is thus suggested.