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Distance Learning in Adult Basic Education: A Review of the Literature

The purpose of this literature review is to provide background information about distance learning (DL) in adult basic education (ABE), specifically, to identify program design and policy implications to inform the use of distance education (DE) for GED® students in rural Pennsylvania.
Author(s): 
Ramazon Gungor
Esther Prins
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy, The Pennsylvania State University
Published: 
2011
Resource Type: 
Product
Number of Pages: 
11
Product Type: 
Abstract: 

The purpose of this literature review is to provide background information about distance learning in adult basic education , specifically, to identify program design and policy implications to inform the use of distance education for GED® students in rural Pennsylvania. Adult educators have long sought to encourage greater participation in, and more equitable access to, educational opportunities for adult learners. This literature review examines how distance education can help adult educators address issues of equity and participation, especially in rural areas with restricted educational opportunities. In Pennsylvania, for example, rural residents tend to have lower educational attainment and more limited access to adult education services than their urban counterparts.

What the Experts Say: 

Distance Learning in Adult Basic Education is extraordinarily helpful to program administrators tasked with making decisions regarding the type and/or quantity of technology resources, as well as determining their applicability within an adult education classroom. Teachers will also benefit from the useful information gathered on emerging practices and the history of distance education and distance learning provided by this resource. In addition, those who are interested in adult basic education distance education, especially for rural areas in the United States, will find this summary of the research very helpful.

The program descriptions, policy analysis, and reports sections are very informative and could impact decision-making at the highest levels. This report could be used to support the acquisition of additional (or original) electronic and digital or other technology-focused resources. This provides great support of the usefulness and ultimate benefits across a range of fields of implementing distance learning tools within an adult education classroom.

Additionally, this report is a useful review of the adult basic education distance education and distance learning literature in the U.S. through 2010, ideal for those who provide adult basic education distance learning or for those who are studying it. Although the focus of the literature review is providing background information for those interested in distance education in rural Pennsylvania, it covers a broad range of studies, articles and policy papers in North America.

This is a valuable addition to a woefully sparse collection of resources supporting the use and implementation of technologies −in the form of electronic access, digital resources and other distance learning enhancers−into the adult education classroom. K-12 classrooms have been embracing the advent of technology for years and the field of adult education has been slow to follow that lead. Even though adult learners are sometimes more reticent to adopt new, especially technology- based, tools, their use and application will ultimately greatly aid those in adult education classrooms by improving job skills, as well as their ability to function in a society ever more technologically focused.

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