Online Learning Update

June 24, 2010

Late-Career Adults in Online Learning: A Rewarding Experience for Individuals Aged 50 to 65

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:01 am

by Amy S. Gaumer Erickson & Patricia M. Noonan, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 6, No. 2, June 2010

Adults over age 50 are increasingly pursuing online instructional modalities of higher education coursework. While research shows that late-career adults typically prefer traditional, face-to-face instruction, some are embracing the flexibility and convenience inherent in online instruction. This mixed-method study examined both the academic performance and instructional support needs of late-career adults (aged 50-65) in an online course as compared to early-career (aged 21-35) and mid-career (aged 36-49) adults. Surprisingly, results of the study indicate that not only are late-career adults satisfied with the online delivery, but they actually find the experience to be more rewarding than their early- and mid-career peers despite the differences in technical abilities. Additionally, results reveal that for late-career adults to be successful in online classes, they initially require higher levels of technology support and digital interaction. However, after receiving the technical assistance, they perform as good as or better than their younger peers.

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