11Learning Technology and Lifelong Informal, Self-directed, and Non-formal Learning

Colin Latchem

11.1 Introduction

Books, journals, and conference papers on educational technology are overwhelmingly concerned with applications of the systems, methods, technological processes, and resources in formal education and particularly in higher education contexts. Yet only 7% of the world’s population is estimated to possess college or university degrees (Wilson 2010). Even in developed countries such as the United States, UK, and Australia, only 30-40% of the population have bachelor's degrees. While degrees are important credentials in a range of professions, everyone, whatever their walk of life, social or economic position, country, or culture, harbors aspirations that require access to new knowledge and skills. Yet little is written about the role of educational technology in informal learning or non-formal education, despite its potential to develop disposition towards, and capacity in, lifelong learning in all of the world’s people.

Governments and international organizations such as UNESCO recognize the important role of informal learning and non-formal education in making the goal of lifelong learning for all a reality. Lifelong learning is defined as ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for the purposes of personal development, employability, and adaptability. This definition accords with the four pillars of education described in the Delors Report (1996): ...

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