Online learning – some musings
The excellent Pew Research Centre has recently released a report on Digital Readiness in relation to online learning and American adults. The report says how there has been a big emphasis previously on access to technology, but this report assesses the ability and readiness of adults to use online learning tools. And the results are disturbing. The research shows that only 17% are digitally ready to undertake online learning and over half those surveyed are relatively hesitant.
I recently had cause to use an online learning program that I accessed through my local public library. I have just started a new role as Public Libraries Victoria Network (PLVN) Exec Officer which means I need to know how to use MYOB, an accounting system. Instead of attending a local college or other learning provider I was able to log into Lynda.com through Yarra Plenty Regional Library and spend (a not so exciting) 3 hours being led through MYOB at my own pace and in my own time. I picked up enough in that session to feel confident using MYOB and know that if I need to check on a specific task I can just go back and have it explained to me again. I found it a really excellent way to learn, and I’m sure that many people would benefit from firstly knowing that such opportunities are there, and secondly that their local public library is probably providing access free of charge.
One of the big issues that public libraries have is that there is so much available for the community to use and people don’t know. The second big issue that libraries are trying to address is this lack of preparedness in the community – people don’t have the skills or confidence to access these learning opportunities. And that just keeps making the digital divide greater.
PLVN is coordinating an excellent program being funded by the Victorian Department of Health Services Seniors Card Program and Telstra to deliver technology training to people aged over 60 including in community languages. This program should help people move along the continuum and encourage them to explore online learning opportunities. Brain health is a big item for libraries and is highlighted in the Victorian Libraries 2030 report as one of the areas of focus for libraries. Lifelong learning opportunities come in all sorts of ways, and online learning will only continue to grow in importance.