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Last updated: 28.03.12

Older individuals 'can benefit from e-learning'

Learning new skills assists the mental health and wellbeing of older individuals and should be encouraged, one cognitive therapist has advised.

Dan Roberts, founder of, said is it "certainly a good idea to keep learning as we grow older" adding this should not just be limited to gaining academic qualifications.

E-learning and online learning can enable individuals to follow courses remotely without needing to visit a college and Mr Roberts explained "learning a new skill, whether physical or mental, is just as important as doing a PhD".

"Because we know the brain keeps growing and changing throughout our lives, it's definitely a bad idea to think we can just give up on studying and stretching ourselves because we hit middle-age," he remarked.

E-learning is being utilised at a growing rate both in the UK and around the world and the University of the Third Age recently revealed plans to expand its online services as part of a four-point plan to increase the amount of learning opportunities available to the elderly in light of recent criticism over standards in care homes.

Mr Roberts added taking a lifelong approach to learning, rather than stopping as people grow older, is a "win-win situation" thanks to the mental and wellbeing benefits of constantly stimulating the brain and developing new skills.

The trend has accelerated in recent years thanks to technological advances - such as faster internet connections and the introduction of tablet computers - and Global Industry Analysts (GIA) expect the value of the worldwide e-learning sector to reach $107 billion (£67 billion) by 2015.

Previously, GIA noted online learning has many advantages over traditional computer-based sessions, including reduced costs, a centralised storage point for content and uniformity of delivery to end users, adding "rapid growth" is likely to take place in the corporate market as a result.