Dive Brief:

  • Nearly three-quarters of adults consider themselves lifelong learners but they don’t, in such large numbers, report online learning to be the source of their continuing education.
  • New survey data from the Pew Research Center shows personal and professional learners cite community or workplace settings as the locations of their educational opportunities far more than online courses — with 30- to 35-percentage-point gaps between the in-person and online scenarios.
  • As with other surveys, this latest data shows adults with higher educational attainment levels and higher incomes are more likely to engage in personal or professional learning, and white adults are more likely than black or Latino adults.

Dive Insight:

While the internet was supposed to democratize education with open access, barriers have remained in place. The Pew data shows individuals with multiple internet access options at home, like a smartphone and home broadband, are 16-percentage-points more likely to use the internet for most or all of their personal learning, compared to those with one or fewer access points in the home. Just more than half of the population has a smartphone and home broadband access.

Access to technology is also limiting the adoption of digital course materials on college campuses. While digital course materials are often favored for their savings, community college faculty consistently report their students do not own the technology with which to access such digital materials, and therefore they prefer more expensive paper textbooks.