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The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Many Americans Unaware of Online Learning

A new Pew Research Center study found 74% of American adults consider themselves “personal learners.” While that may sound good, the report also noted that only 14% were “very familiar” with the concept of distance learning and just 5% had heard of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The survey of nearly 3,000 adults also found that 49% of the respondents said they were “not familiar at all” with distance learning in general and 67% said the same of MOOCs.

Access to technology also played a role. More than 80% of the respondents with smartphones or a high-speed Internet connection participated in a personal learning program, compared to 54% who said they didn’t have a home broadband connection or a smartphone.

“It becomes a bit of a double-whammy for less-educated Americans,” John Horrigan, author of the study, said in a report for Quartz. “They are less attuned to seeking out educational opportunities than other segments [of the population], and less skilled at using new technologies that might help them overcome those gaps.”

Help might be on the horizon from the Federal Communications Commission, which recently voted on a plan to modernize a Reagan-era program, known as Lifeline, that provides phone service to low-income individuals. The plan would allow users to apply the monthly support they receive for Lifeline to a broadband service starting at 500 MB.

“It’s taken a lot of work for the agency to get even this fairly modest modernization of Lifeline from a phone-only program in 1985 to one that is broadband-inclusive,” Josh Stager, policy counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute, said in a report for Diverse Education. “But many Americans clearly still need help affording the tablets and laptops that would get them online.”

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