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Must Try Harder! Problems Facing Technological Solutions to Non-participation in Adult Learning

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Abstract:

The current Government has placed lifelong learning high on its agenda, both for reasons of economic benefit and to increase social inclusion. At 'half-term', what are the prospects for a 'pass' in this course? Using data from a new National Institute of Adult Continuing Education survey of adult participation in learning, and early results from participant observation of the setting up of a 'virtual college', as well as published findings from pilot studies for the University for Industry, this article considers the challenges facing the Government in widening participation through the use of digital technology. The 'problem', of widening access to learning opportunities for all, is not a new one, and it is unlikely to be one with a simple technical fix. The conclusion drawn here is that the emerging use of digital technology is likely to replicate existing inequalities in access to learning. Despite the fine efforts of those involved, and some ingenious technical and distributional suggestions, the recommendation must therefore be that we all try harder.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713651571

Affiliations: School of Social Sciences, University of Cardiff

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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