'We are guinea pigs really': Examining the realities of ICT-based adult learning

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Abstract:

The use of information and communications technology (ICT) to facilitate easy access to lifelong learning for all is one of the central tenets of the UK government's drive to establish a 'learning society'. At the heart of initiatives such as the 'University for Industry' and 'learndirect' are the objectives of increasing access to educational opportunities, thereby widening adult participation in lifelong learning. In so doing the government has invested considerable faith (and finance) in the role of ICT as the primary means of overcoming traditional barriers to lifelong learning. Yet, to date, this growing area of adult education remains over-discussed and under-researched. This article therefore presents an initial empirical examination of the nature of this apparently 'new' form of adult learning. Utilising the concept of 'learning trajectories' and based on in-depth interviews with 36 adult learners in four different ICT-based settings this article examines: (i) the extent to which ICT can be said to be widening participation in learning to previously 'disengaged' adults; and (ii) the experiences, attitudes and views of those learners currently participating in ICT-based learning.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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