Bringing the Internet Home: Adult Distance Learners and Their Internet, Home, and Work Worlds

Caroline Haythornthwaite, Michelle M. Kazmer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Debate about the role of the Internet in everyday life has raised questions about whethertime spent online provides benefits to the individuals who are online and the families andfriends around them. While recent surveys provide data on the overall picture of Internetuse, here we look at adult users' views of what is gained and lost with the additionof online hours to already full schedules. For one year, we followed seventeen adult studentsas they engaged in an Internet-based distance degree program.We explored theirinvolvement with the online learning community, how this affected their relationships withfamily, work, volunteer, and peer groups, and how they managed and juggled their involvementin these multiple social worlds.We find that students' satisfaction with the programincreased, and anxiety about operating in the online world decreased, with increasedinvolvement with the learning community. Although this was often realized in the shortterm at the expense of offline communities and activities, we believe that taking this asa negative effect discounts the very real support that such students were receiving onlinefrom other students. Moreover, we find two encouraging effects for local communities:first, that both work and home environments gain benefits from students' online activityas more experienced students find and act on synergies between their online learningand work and home activities, and second that retreat from local community is only temporaryas students make up for lost time with others during breaks, and re-engage withtheir offline life as they near the end of their program

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Internet in Everyday Life
Publisherwiley
Pages429-463
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9780470774298
ISBN (Print)0631235078, 9780631235071
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 25 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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