Adults' use of computers and the Internet for self-education

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Abstract:

This paper explores the varied use of information technologies (ITs) such as the computer and Internet for self-education, highlighting how these technologies can facilitate and suppress such learning opportunities throughout the adult population. Based on data drawn from a large-scale study of adults in the West of England and South Wales, the paper addresses three areas of inquiry: (i) how computers and the Internet are used in adults' engagement with self-education; (ii) why adults engage (or do not engage) in IT-based self-education; and (iii) the social stratification of adults' engagement in IT-based self-education. The paper concludes that although computers and the Internet are, indeed, being used by some adults for self-education (often in extensive and elaborate ways), they appear to be reinforcing rather than activating processes of self-education, allowing people to continue with pre-existing and pre-set patterns of informal learning which generally replicate and reinforce patterns of 'offline' self-education.

Keywords: ADULTS; COMPUTERS; INFORMAL LEARNING; INTERNET; SELF-EDUCATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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