The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has published a major new survey showing an increase in independent and online ‘distance learning’ by more mature people.
While the proportion of people aged 50 and over engaged in learning has not changed since the last survey in 2005, the numbers learning independently and online have risen.
The news comes as no surprise to leading online courses provider, Distance Learning Centre, whose managing director, Mike Verinder, comments: “In recent years we have found increasing numbers of learners over 50 joining our courses – and completing them successfully.
“The feedback we get from more mature students is that they have spent a few years learning computer skills and now they want to apply them as a resource to gain new qualifications, enhance their employability prospects, or merely to pursue a particular interest and become more involved in the modern digital world.”
Popular Distance Learning Centre courses with the over 50 community include: Webmaster Web Design Courses, Garden Design Courses, ECDL Online Courses, Fiction Writing Courses, Property Development Courses and Interior Design Courses.
The report’s author, Professor Stephen McNair, Senior Research Fellow at NIACE, said: “There has been a transformation in older people’s learning over the last seven years. This survey shows, for the first time, how complex and important the benefits of learning are for older people. Learning, for them, is not just about pursuing interests. It helps them to stay involved in society, to maintain their health, to manage caring roles and to cope with life crises.”