Adult education needs more ‘passion’ and investment from technology entrepreneurs, report says
This article was written by Nichole Dobo
Adult education could be improved through the use of educational technology, but there is not enough investment in it, according to two reports released this week.
Millions of adults seeking new workforce skills say they need better educational opportunities, but little of the recent cash infusion into educational technology has gone toward addressing those needs, according to the first of two research reports, based on a national survey and study from Tyton Partners, a firm that provides investment banking and strategy consulting.
“This is a big issue, and yet there’s not the same level of passion we see within the entrepreneurial community,” said Adam Newman, a co-founder of Tyton Partners, which has offices in Boston and Stamford, Connecticut.
About 80 percent of respondents to the survey of people directly involved with delivering adult education said they have computers in their programs, so access to devices in those classrooms is not a big obstacle, according to the report. And fewer than one in five instructors or administrators said they believed education technology was too burdensome.
But many adult students do not have computers at home. So another opportunity for expanding access to education and workforce training programs is the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones, the report said. Many adults have access to these devices, which means they could be an ideal platform for delivering information. But only 27 percent of respondents said that adult education programs make use of smartphone apps.
Another report released this week also suggests that mobile devices could be an effective way to reach disadvantaged communities. According to a report released Wednesday by The Pew Research Center, about 10 percent of adults do not have broadband at home, but do have access to the Internet through a smartphone.
“Those with relatively low income and educational attainment levels, younger adults, and non-whites are especially likely to be ‘smartphone-dependent,’ ” according to the report.
The research from Tyton Partners, “Learning for Life: The Opportunity for Technology to Transform Adult Education” is the first of two reports that will explore the use of technology in this sector. The second is expected later this spring. The research was supported by the Joyce Foundation and the Commission on Adult Basic Education.
Nichole Dobo is a reporter and the blended learning fellow. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic’s online edition, Mind/Shift, WHYY NewsWorks, Slate and in McClatchy newspapers.