Adult learners online: students’ experiences of learning online

Knightley, Wendy M. (2007). Adult learners online: students’ experiences of learning online. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 47(2) pp. 264–288.



Throughout the world, policy-makers are demonstrating their commitment to widening participation in education by promoting alternative pathways to gaining academic qualifications. This paper reports a study which aimed to investigate the potential of online learning to overcome barriers to participating in education by socially disadvantaged adults, and to identify the factors that influenced such students’ participation and successful completion of online learning courses. Seventy-nine adults taking online learning courses with the Open University in the United Kingdom participated in a telephone survey and 15 of these students were also interviewed.

Participants perceived themselves as having more easily accessed education because of the option of online learning and reported having benefited from the experience. However, online learning per se should be offered as only one potential means of attracting and retaining adult students, and further exploration into its potential for widening participation is necessary.

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