Australians over 65 are the fastest-growing new adopters of non-formal online education, according to new new research commissioned by NBN Co called "the Connecting Australia report".
The research also reveals they are heading online in droves to watch tutorials, complete new courses and learn new languages.
The report uses research from "economics and data analytics advisory firm AlphaBeta", which has product its "first national economic and social study of the impact of the nbn broadband access network".
It reveals that "NBN connected users are twice as likely to be enrolled in an online course than non-NBN connected users, and are also more likely to enrol in online courses in the future".
- Silver surfers: Almost four out of five over-65-year-old NBN users are engaged in non-formal education, compared with just over one in two non-NBN users.
- Mid-Life online learners: NBN users aged 45 to 64 are 1.4 times more likely to use the Internet for learning online compared to those in non-NBN areas.
- Adult learners: For groups aged 25 to 44, the proportion of people using the Internet for online learning in NBN areas is 1.3 times greater than those in non-NBN areas. For people aged 16 to 24, that proportion is 1.2 times greater for internet users in NBN-connected areas than those in non-NBN regions.
- Learning for all ages: Thirty-two percent of users connected to the NBN access network spend at least one hour a day on the Internet on non-formal learning, compared to only 20% of non-NBN users.
- City clickers: In metro areas, NBN users are 1.5 times more likely to use the Internet for non-formal learning than non-NBN users.
- Country classrooms: Regional NBN users are 1.8 times more likely to use the Internet for non-formal learning compared with regional non-NBN users. Regional NBN users are also 1.4 times more likely to express interest in enrolling in online education in the future, compared to metro NBN users who are, 1.2 times more likely compared to their non-NBN city counterparts.
The report also states that "as significant increase in online education, attributed to the NBN’s access network impact on workers’ productivity, is estimated to boost the Australian economy by up to $1.7 billion in 2021".
The NBN Co created video below shows how the access network is helping senior Australians, like Faezeh, who continues to learn online and progress her teaching and acting skills:
NBN Co’s chief executive Bill Morrow said: “With almost two-thirds of all Australian homes now available to connect to the nbn access network, we are helping to provide more Australians, regardless of age or postcode, the opportunity to continue to learn online.
"Whether it’s an online formal university course or simply a ‘how-to’ YouTube video, the NBN access network will help give all Australians the opportunity to continue to learn, whenever and wherever they want. This will open up many opportunities, particularly for people located in regional areas.”
Council on the Ageing Australia’s chief executive Ian Yates said: “Digital connectivity is an increasingly important part of life for older Australians and our aim is to ensure older people are included in all aspects of Australian life.
“It has always been a concern that the digital world could be isolating for older Australians, but it is great to see evidence that many are utilising services over the nbn access network to make the most of new opportunities to learn online and upskill after their retirement years.”
Good Things Foundation’s national director Jessica Wilson said: “It is very promising that so many older Australians are engaging with online learning, but we know there is still more work to do to make sure that all older Australians have the support they need to learn new skills.
“The Be Connected Network of over 1500 community organisations across the country are there to support older Australians to have the confidence, knowledge and the skills to engage with the digital world. Clearly, having access to the internet is also important and the nbn access network will play a key role in enabling this.”
More information about the Connecting Australia report is at its website here.