Tackling social exclusion through online learning? A preliminary investigation

Knightley, Wendy (2006). Tackling social exclusion through online learning? A preliminary investigation. Journal of Access Policy and Practice, 4(1) pp. 20–38.

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/niace/japp/2...


This paper reports adults' experiences of higher education (HE) using information and communication technologies (ICT), or online learning (OLL). The study aimed: (i) to investigate the potential of online learning for overcoming barriers to participating in education by the socially disadvantaged; (ii) to identify perceived benefits and drawbacks of this mode of studying; and (iii) to establish how 'online' students might be better supported in their learning. Quantitative and qualitative data were obtained through telephone and in-depth face-to-face interviews with adults studying various higher education online distance learning courses with the UK's Open University (OU). Results indicate that online courses may provide adults with a convenient and flexible opportunity for re-engaging with education. There were several factors that encouraged participation in OLL courses and led to their successful completion, including the variety of multi-media components and the opportunity for electronic interaction and collaborative learning with peers. It is suggested that technological perspectives can provide one route to overcoming barriers to participation in education - and in the community - by the previously disaffected members of our society.

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