Older learners can go digital, too

16th July 2010 at 01:00
Your report "Digital literacy `as vital as maths and English'" (FE Focus, July 2) is a very timely reminder of the importance of digital skills as the new coalition Government establishes priorities in a climate of reduced public funding.

The report cites a joint letter, organised by the National Association of Advisers for Computers in Education (Naace), to Education Secretary Michael Gove, which rightly asserts that "a digitally literate and digitally creative workforce is of vital importance to every citizen".

We at the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (Niace) not only endorse this but go further and call for all citizens - whether in work or not - to have access to skills to make the very best from the digital world.

With more than a third of people aged 65 and over already using the online world, it is no longer acceptable to think in terms of a lost digital generation - older adults have a place firmly in this learning territory.

In addition to learning about technology, there are significant potential benefits of technology for learning. Niace's recent survey showed that there is much technical infrastructure in place for adult students and that one in three teachers in adult community learning and one in six in offender learning are creating their own e-resources regularly.

Added to this there is now a vast reserve of freely available digital content - so much, in fact, that busy teachers deserve help in how to locate it and use it in their own context. The ingredients of a digital learning future are out there but they are not fully mixed and the cake is not baked.

We join with the voices of Naace, the 157 Group, the Association of Colleges and the Association for Learning Technology in calling on the Coalition not to allow the UK to lose its leading position in digital learning.

Alastair Clark, Senior programme director, Niace.

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