Lifelong learning in the digital age: A content analysis of recent research on participation

  • Alison J. Head Director, Project Information Literacy, Faculty Associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Principal Research Scientist at the University of Washington's Information School
  • Michele Van Hoeck California Maritime Academy
  • Deborah S. Garson Graduate School of Education, Harvard University
Keywords: lifelong learning, adult continued education, online learning, workplace learning

Abstract

This paper presents results from a cross-disciplinary content analysis of 185 recent research articles, published between 2008 and 2013. These papers examined factors affecting adult participation in lifelong learning, based on the availability and use of Internet-based and face-to-face modes of learning. Articles were written by scholars from 39 countries, including the European Union (EU), United States (U.S.), Canada, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, from developing and newly industrialized countries, such as Mexico, Brazil, China, and Taiwan. Despite widespread assumptions as to online learning’s potential and promise, articles focused on traditional face-to-face learning and training modes more than Internet-based modes. Seven thematic research areas were identified from the dataset: four major and three emerging themes. Key findings from 40 studies about the adult participation in learning in the workplace and community-based programs are highlighted. These papers present broad and deep investigations about diverse groups of lifelong learners previously unstudied, while equity issues pertaining to access and availability of training and learning opportunities are addressed. Directions for future research are identified and discussed.

Author Biographies

Alison J. Head, Director, Project Information Literacy, Faculty Associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Principal Research Scientist at the University of Washington's Information School
Alison J. Head, Ph.D. is the founder and director of Project Information Literacy, a public benefit nonprofit in partnership with the Information School at the University of Washington. Head is the Lead Researcher for PIL, a Faculty Associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and an Affiliate Associate Professor in the iSchool.
Michele Van Hoeck, California Maritime Academy
Michele Van Hoeck, MLIS, is Dean at California Maritime Academy Library and a PIL researcher.
Deborah S. Garson, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Deborah S. Garson, MLS, is the Head of Research and Instruction Services at Monroe C. Gutman Library and a Lecturer on Education in the Graduate School of Education, both at Harvard University, and a member of PIL’s Lifelong Learning Advisory Board.

Published
2015-02-04
How to Cite
Head, A. J., Van Hoeck, M., & Garson, D. S. (2015). Lifelong learning in the digital age: A content analysis of recent research on participation. First Monday, 20(2). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i2.5857