The benefits of adult learning: information technology and older adults


The IT Group, Yeovil U3A

I’ve just been reading a study of how adult learning influences older people’s use of information technology. I’ll summarise this study, as it adds to our knowledge about the benefits of adult learning, but if you want to read the original it is available here.

The study is of University of the Third Age students in two Italian centres for seniors. The researchers surveyed 135 individual learners; like many other studies of U3A groups the learners were more likely to be highly educated than the population at large, and the IT groups had more men than average for U3A courses. The survey relied on self-reporting, and examined changes in IT use among those taking the course.

The results were highly illuminating, and they are summarised in the abstract below. The only group who did not benefit significantly from the course were university graduates, which should come as no surprise. Those with lower existing levels of education, and especially those with the lowest levels, experienced the largest benefits.New Picture

Given the increasing role of IT in health care and access to other government services, as well as in everyday communications, these are important findings.Last year I got annoyed with a government minister who’d been sneering at part-time courses in IT for adult learners. She justified her attack on adult learning in machine-like language:

there has been a deprioritisation in the range of computing courses that are about things such as how to work a mouse and how to organise your calendar at Christmas.

Well, learning how to use a mouse might just be critical if you are seventy and are terrified to touch a computer. Internet use among older adults is rising, but it falls sharply among the over-65s. Evidence that education changes behaviour as well as attitudes is therefore very welcome.

3 thoughts on “The benefits of adult learning: information technology and older adults

  1. It is no secret that today’s society has become more and more inundated with technology. The escalation of technology and online learning has created a wealth of learning opportunities for educational institutions, businesses, and adult learners. As more people matriculate through self-paced learning, barriers to successful learning continue to show up and need to be dealt with by educators.

    Computer-based learning entails learning both the system of content delivery and the content itself. Many adult learners are embarrassed and frustrated by learning technology due to a lack of patience and assistance from instructors. Preparing adult learners to utilize technology should involve being in a non-threatening atmosphere that will allow them to succeed and feel comfortable as they embrace new challenges.

    Adult learners should not have to deviate from opportunities that can foster positive attitudes towards technology and their learning experience. I am thrilled that my Mother at 77 years young knows how to download music, search the internet, text and maneuver her electronics. When educators are patient with students [adult learners], life-long learning will foster enrichment for self-confidence and personal gain.

    Thank you for sharing your contribution and awareness on the subject matter.

  2. Pingback: 5 Reasons Why Adult Education Will Benefits Learners - My Senior Portal

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