The Internet is widely, and increasingly, consulted for self-directed learning, and for offers in education and training. But participation in online courses is still not common, and only rising slowly.


Data source: Eurostat, ICT Households/Individuals Survey

Supporting the development of innovative ICT-based content, services, pedagogies and practice for lifelong learning is one of the specific objectives of the EU Action Programme for Lifelong Learning.

The digital agenda for Europe considers eLearning as a component of the digital society. In particular, the use of online tools and digital media is considered as one of the possible opportunities for modernising education and training as well as for contributing to re-skilling and continuing professional development.

Internet usage for learning, for finding information on learning opportunities as well as for participating in online courses are important aspects to monitor (proposed Benchmarking Framework for monitoring Digital Europe).

Key points

  • Internet is widely and increasingly used for self-directed learning. In the 3 months prior to the survey, 32 % of the total population in the EU have consulted Internet for the purpose of self-directed learning (2010 data). This is an increase by 9 percentage points compared to 2007.
  • Internet is also commonly used to look for learning opportunities. In the 3 months prior to the survey, 23 % of individuals in the EU have used Internet to search for information on education and training courses (2010 data). This is an increase by 4 percentage points compared to 2007.
  • However, the use of Internet to attend online courses is relatively less frequent (5 % of the total population in 2010) and slowly growing (an increase by 2 percentage points compared to 2007). Data also refer to the 3 months prior to the survey.
  • In 2010, Finland reported the highest percentage of population attending online education and training (14 % of the total population), followed by Spain and Lithuania (8 %) and by Sweden and the United Kingdom (7 %)
  • In 2010, the Czech Republic and Cyprus reported the lowest percentage of population attending online education and training (1 % of the total population). Low levels were also reported by Bulgaria, Greece, Austria, Poland and Portugal (2 %). 

Note: Data presented here refer to the percentage of the total population that has used Internet in the 3 months prior to the survey to carry out some activities related to education and training. The 3 following activities are considered:
i) looking for information about education, training or course offers (i.e. the research of information is meant to be an online research, whereas education, training and courses could be held either online or offline);
ii) doing an online course in any subject (courses fully or partially done online are included);
iii) consulting the Internet with the purpose of self-directed learning. Looking up daily life information such as a city map or a phone number is not considered as learning; on the contrary, looking up information to improve one’s knowledge (such as the definition of an economic concept) is included in the category of self-directed learning.

Data presented here originate from the Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals and are subject to its methodology.