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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Studies in the Education of Adults is an international refereed academic journal, publishing theoretical, empirical and historical studies from all sectors of post-initial education and training. It provides a forum for the debate and development of key concepts. Studies in the education of adults is published by NIACE in association with the Standing Conference on University Research and Teaching in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA), the Universities Association for Continuing Education (UACE) and the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA).