Adult Distance Learners as Users of the Internet and Web Services in Finnish Senior High Schools

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate adult distance learners as users of the Internet and web services and their perceptions of using web services for learning in comparison to young contact learners in Finnish senior high schools. Web services are an increasingly interesting option in supporting learning, especially in the wake of social media and mobile devices. For adult learners, the new web services are especially interesting, because they can be used for advancing lifelong learning and creating personal learning environments.

The study focuses on three aspects relevant to adult learning with web services: the capabilities and attitudes toward learning with web services, the various modes of interaction in web services for learning, and self-direction and autonomy in using web services for learning. The empirical work is based on a quantitative survey and statistical methods are utilized in analyzing the data.

The results show that adult distance learners in Finnish senior high schools use the Internet and web services frequently and that they also see themselves competent in using them. They perceive web services useful for learning, but in this regard they can be widely divided as a group. Adult distance learners follow content created and posted by others in web services frequently, yet also in this they are somewhat divided as a group. In contrast, there is quite a lot of dispersion in how frequently they create and post content themselves. They also connect frequently with others online. Adult distance learners perceive autonomy important in choosing web services for learning, and  ersonal preferences greatly affect which web services they choose.

Compared to young contact learners, adult distance learners perceive web services much more useful for learning. However, they do not follow content as frequently, and they are more divided as a group in following content and creating content themselves. They also perceive autonomy more important, but personal preferences affect their choices as much.

Reference: Koskinen, M. (2014). Adult Distance Learners as Users of the Internet and Web Services in Finnish Senior High Schools. Bachelor’s Thesis in Adult Education. The Open University of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Available online: 2014_BachelorsThesis.pdf