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Association between age, gender and eLearning


Is anybody aware of any research or case studies that have been completed into associations between age, gender and preference to eLearning?
Kenneth Deane

5 Responses

  1. Age, gender and preference
    It’s not quite as easy as that. There have been patterns and relationships recorded, but as to specific causal relationships between these variables, the answer seems to be “no”. There seems to be a relationships between age and motivation to learn, as well as some small (although uncorrelated) relationship between learning styles and preference for elearning. Work I’m doing at the moment is looking at the relationship between activity-orientation (learning in groups) and a motivation to learn online. The papers coming thorugh to me don’t look at age as the issue, but perhaps inclination to learn using any format as one gets older. Hope this helps (to start). DB

  2. E-learning Acceptance
    I undertook a pilot of e-learning last year and reviewed nearly 300 feedback forms covering both sexes, people from different countries, with different levels of education, a mix of managerial and non-managerial and judging from the focus groups I also ran – different ages. Although I didn’t analyse any of these variables, I can report that I did not notice any difference in their acceptance of e-learning. All in fact, were largely very positive about the experience they had.

    In fact, over the last nine years of implementing technology-based training solutions, I’ve never regarded these variables as having any bearing on the success or otherwise of the strategy.

  3. Age, gender and e-learning
    I agree with Tim. Having been e-tutoring courses over the last year with over forty learners aged between 25 and 65, I’ve discerned no difference. It is down to motivation and time. What helps most of all is developing a sense of community. Administering e-learning to groups is much better than working with individuals. This isn’t easy to achieve with open courses, but in-house it should be. I realise this goes against the ‘when you want it’ approach, but there needs to be a compromise in the interests of completion. You might have a look at where there are a lot a research papers.

  4. No evidence of age/gender preference
    We have trained tens of thousands of learners online, many of them first-time e-learners. There has been no discernable preference for e-learning that fits neatly into an age or gender pattern. What is clear is that cultural and personal motivation factors play a big role. Those who choose e-learning over classroom learning tend to be more dynamic, more self-motivated, and more demanding learners (we call them alpha-learners) who resent the time-away-from-task that classroom learning requires, who value the ability to learn in their own time, and who value the ability to sustain networking with colleagues through and beyond the learning experience.

    I suspect that where age does play a part is in the preferences that people have for media-richness (this may have something to do with learning styles, though I suspect it has more to do with sophistication of their technology expectations). Though I have never analysed learner feed back for this, my feeling is that younger learners are less interested in time-consuming, gratuitous “bright shiny objects” than older learners. They just want to get on with it, are more interested in interactivity with fellow e-learners than in interactivity with programmes, and do not have the same desire to be “entertained” by someone else’s creativity as some of their older colleagues may be.

    Godfrey Parkin

  5. Age and Media Richness
    Godfrey’s points are interesting, and led me to think more about this. Some of the work that I’ve been looking at recently points to issues that come from traditional (whatever that means)neuropsychology and also motivational research.

    If people are newer to a subject area and the task of learning is relatively simple, surprisingly it seems that engaging media rich material may be more suitable. With learners who are more experienced in the subject, and the learning is more compicated, much less time should be spent on media richness and more time should be spent on content-richness (and depth) and interpersonal activity and dialogue. So senior executives, well-versed in a field of business, will probably want access to more detailed resources and other like-minded colleagues. Business students in their first week of their A-level studies may need more media interactivity to engage them in the subject.

    This is my field of research, so if people wanted a more intersting (and drawn-out) dialogue on this, please get in touch through my email ūüôā



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