They just might be according to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive for Walden University. The university's Social Change Impact Report focused on measuring "who is engaged in social change, what is important to them and how they work together to advance social change issues of interest now and in the future," according to a university press release.
How does this study relate to Continuing Education?
It found that education and digital technology (think elearning) are at the top of the list of things adults think are key to social change in the future.
That's a significant, and somewhat surprising, finding.
In March 2011, Harris Interactive asked 2,148 U.S. adults what they believe about social change. What issues do they care about? What motivates them to become engaged in social change? What actions are they taking to effect change, and what tools do they use?
The FindingsThe study found that education is the No. 1 issue on Americans' minds (40%). They believe education is the most important path to future social change, followed by health issues (35%) and poverty issues (33%).
Digital technology was shown to be the tool that empowers people to "get involved in positive social change issues faster and more frequently than ever before," according to the study.
A third key finding is that most people (88%) believe that the best way to impact social change in the world is to get involved on the local level.
Let's put it all together:
"The findings in the Social Change Impact Report underscore the absolutely critical role educational institutions play in social change by equipping individuals with the tools and practical knowledge needed to address some of society’s greatest needs," said Jonathan Kaplan, president of Walden University. "The survey also affirms the power one individual has to make a profound difference in his or her local community and around the world."
Our TakeThe study stopped short of saying that elearning is the obvious conclusion here, but that's our take on it here at About Continuing Education.
What do you get when you combine education, digital technology, and involvement in the world on a local level?
You get the power of elearning. You get a picture of people using technology in their own homes to educate themselves, to get involved in making better things happen all around the world. You get positive social change.
I want to emphasize that this is my conclusion, not necessarily the university's.
What Does It Mean For You?What does this study mean for you, whether you're a non-traditional student or a teacher of adults? That's easy, isn't it?
Most people will tell you they want to make a difference in the world. They want their lives to have mattered. Some want to be a force for social change.
This study says that taking advantage of digital technology, of elearning resources available to you, can help you achieve the education you have always dreamed of and make the changes in the world that are important to you.
You don't have to wait. Elearning is available to you right now from myriad universities around the world. Financial aid is also available. Get up. Do it. Make your dream a reality, one at a time.
Other Interesting FindingsThe study also found that Baby Boomers (age 47-65) and people they call Matures (age 66+) are the "driving force of social change in America and are engaging at the highest levels." This is impressive, but not really surprising. People 47 and older are the current majority, and we grew up effecting social change. Remember the sit-ins of the sixties?