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Keeping the Adult Student a Persistent Online Learner

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Over the last several decades, we have seen an explosion of online learning. The proliferation of the internet, mobile devices and mobile applications is increasing the opportunities for adults to further their education. (Keengwe, J. & Kidd, T., 2010) Learning is now available globally, and the learning is available at any time and in any place. These virtual universities and online programs are expanding the opportunities for adults, who because of geography, work, and family commitments, cannot enroll in traditional brick and mortar schools.
Identifying and comparing the traits and characteristics of online dropouts versus persistent adult learners is an important step in assisting instructors and universities in the development of courses and programs that will assist the adult learner in achieving their academic goals.
Consequently, virtual universities and online programs are shifting the faculty to learner paradigm so that the faculty comes to the student instead of the student coming to the faculty. A traditional classroom is just a space where students and faculty gather. In the virtual world, the classroom still exists; students and faculty are still coming together, just not face to face. This concept of virtual classrooms is changing how adults are learning, and how universities are delivering Baccalaureate and graduate degree programs to adults. (Keengwe, J. & Kidd, T., 2010)
The benefits of online education for the adult are well documented. Online course benefits such as flexible scheduling, providing access to students who are unable to attend on campus program, and the capacity to determine ones own pace are major benefits. (Keengwe, J. & Kidd, T., 2010) Adults can now enter a program in mid-life allowing th...

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... Distance Education, 8(3), 213-222.
Keengwe, J., & Kidd, T. (2010). Adult learning in the digital age: Perspectives on online technologies and outcomes. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Lee, Y., Choi, J., & Kim, T. (2013). Discriminating factors between completers of and droupouts from online learning courses. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 328-337. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.0136.x
Park, J., & Choi, H. (2009). Factors influencing adult learners’ decision to drop out or persist in online learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 207-217.
Tyler-Smith, K. (2006). Early attrition among first time eLearners: A review of factors that contribute to drop-out, withdrawal and non-completion rates of adult learners undertaking eLearning programmes. Retrieved March 28, 2014 from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol2no2/tyler-smith.htm
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