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A Review of the Impact of ICT on Learning - page 10 / 26





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relatively high rankings but where performance on the less formalised and broader socio-economic evolutions is considered relatively weak;

  • A cluster of so-called “delayed countries” - for instance Greece, Poland and Slovakia, which usually presents a medium level of advancement in the traditional formal education and training sectors and little or no broader activities.

In the case of eLearning in Vocational Educational and Training, a similar distribution is observed by Ramboll Management (2005) whereby countries such as Austria, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK can be considered frontrunners. These are followed by a middle group composed of the majority of EU countries, and a beginners’ group which includes Portugal and Greece, and most of the new member states. Such a geographical spread may not come as a surprise, as similar rough trends are observable in terms of computer and Internet usage throughout Europe. These usage trends are highest in the Nordic countries and lowest in the new Member States and the Southern European countries (Eurostat 2005).

Consideration of the information society context paves the way for the observation from HELIOS that there are grounds to believe – although further verification is needed – that those countries that are well advanced in eLearning also have well developed broader education, research and innovation policies. These countries also have strong social policies addressing disadvantaged groups; and specific plans on digital content availability and accessibility (HELIOS 2006: 105).

The eUser project, funded by the European Commission's IST Programme, generated interesting empirical data on the use and acceptance of eLearning in Europe. eUser did a population survey in 10 Member States of the adult population living in private households in these countries. The survey mainly reflects data for 2004 as it was conducted at the beginning of 2005. The survey results contain both positive and negative messages. The major ones are mentioned below, for the domain of eLearning:

  • In the countries surveyed, 12% of the total adult population (excluding students in formal education) have used the Internet during the last 12 months for formal learning activities such as looking for information on courses, doing research as part of a course, exchanging messages with co-learners, and downloading dedicated learning content;

  • The spread of eLearning, narrowly defined as online courses in which a significant part of the learning content is transmitted via the Internet, was still very modest: 2% of total adult population (excluding students in formal education);

  • However, the generic use of the Internet for learning was widespread amongst students: 76% of full-time formal students use the Internet in the course of organised learning. Specific online eLearning courses, however, were less diffused: an average of 8% of students took an online eLearning course in any year;

  • The majority (66%) of users of eLearning courses was satisfied with the online service they used and five out of six said they would take online courses again;

  • Moreover, most users appreciated the advantages of eLearning over traditional ways of learning when the full range of eLearning tools such as online discussion boards, chat, interactive lectures, and video streams were applied;

  • Less positive, however, was the fact that most of those that had never followed online courses were not very convinced about them and had no intention of undertaking


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