Much of the research on cognition and learning focuses attention on understanding k-12 populations (those who are aged approximately five years through 18 years). The authors of How People Learn 2 do recognize the increasing expectation that older individuals learn as part of their work. Further, they recognize the increasing interest among older populations in being active learners in both formal and informal environments. These trends will have important implications for designers of technology-rich and online learning environments; the populations we serve have different skills, expectation, and motivations than those who seek education to join professions or to become more educated for other purposes.
In general, learning in adult populations is differentiated into voluntary and mandated learning and formal and informal learning environments. Understanding which of the four resulting types one designs for will make instructional designers more effective.