LEICESTER, England, April 2 (UPI) -- Despite the world of learning available on the Web, the Internet information highway has largely bypassed adult learners, British researchers say.
Participation in adult learning, which many predicted would be accelerated by easier access to the Internet, neither increased nor widened during the first decade of the 21st century, researchers at the University of Leicester reported.
"Given the rapid development of the Internet during these years --both in terms of capability and accessibility -- our findings suggest that online technologies have not fulfilled the promise of their advocates who believed they would break down barriers to learning and expand access to previously excluded groups," Leicester sociologist Patrick White said.
The researchers analyzed data on more than 47,000 participants in an annual survey commissioned by Britain's National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education.
The study suggests barriers preventing educational participation by adults are attitudinal rather that practical or financial, the researchers said.
There was no evidence that the Internet had enabled groups with high levels of non-participation to re-engage with education, they said.
"Learning in later life appears to be primarily linked to positive attitudes to education that are usually formed during compulsory schooling," White said. "This means that young people who experienced early educational failure or felt alienated by the school system are very unlikely to participate in education as adults regardless of the opportunities available or potential benefits."