- A Pew Research Center report titled "Digital Readiness Gaps" suggests many adults aren't prepared to use the digital tools necessary for online learning.
- According to eCampus News, 33% of adults are reluctant when it comes to their ability to use computers and other electronic devices, 31% are "cautious clickers" who are confident in their abilities but unlikely to pursue learning opportunities on- or offline, and 14% are unprepared for online learning all together.
- When it comes to those who are prepared, only 17% are confident in their digital skills, and 40% of that group suggested the majority of their learning occurs online.
Colleges and universities face the challenge of catering to an increasingly nontraditional student base that is becoming the new norm. According to data detailed last year from the National Center for Education Statistics, some 74% of undergraduates enrolled in the 2011-12 academic year could be categorized as nontraditional. That definition includes students enrolling part-time, working full-time, identifying as a single caregiver, lacking a traditional high school diploma or being financially independent — essentially all characteristics that could potentially describe an adult learner.
Adult learners are already more likely to have more difficulty completing programs. If they're not working full-time or caring for children or other dependents, career transitions and other financial burdens can hinder their educational process. A lack of digital preparedness also can compound those difficulties if they attempt online learning. It's on higher ed institutions to ensure these learners are matched to the educational opportunities that are the best fit for them, and that they also receive adequate preparation for the missing digital skills that are needed for an increasingly digital world.