February 23, 2023

Online Learning in Prison: Breaking Barriers and Building Futures

3-min read

Education is often considered the key to breaking the cycle of recidivism and helping individuals successfully re-enter society after their time in prison. However, access to education in prisons has historically been limited, with many facilities lacking the resources to provide comprehensive learning opportunities. In recent years, the advent of online learning has provided a new avenue for prisoners to access education and expand their skill sets, regardless of their location or the resources available to their institution. 

Breaking Barriers 

One of the main advantages of in-cell learning in prisons is its flexibility. Prisoners can complete coursework at their own pace and on their own schedule, allowing them to fit their studies around other commitments and responsibilities. This flexibility is particularly important in a prison environment, where schedules and routines can be disrupted by unexpected events or changes. 

Image of stacked physical books and a iPad on top of a brown table.
Digitally supporting classroom-based learning

In addition to its flexibility, online learning is also cost-effective. Traditional classroom-based learning requires a physical space, instructors, and teaching materials, all of which can be expensive to provide and maintain. Online learning can be used as an alternative to support classroom-based learning. This means that prisons can offer a wider range of courses and subjects without the need for significant additional funding. This method of learning can also resolved staffing issues as online courses can be accessed from any location with an internet connection. Online learning can help to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching, while also promoting lifelong learning and growth for educators.

Another key advantage of in-cell learning in prisons is that it can help to break down barriers to education for prisoners. In many cases, prisoners may have had negative experiences with education in the past or may lack confidence in their ability to learn. Online learning can provide a safe and supportive environment for prisoners to learn at their own pace, without the pressures and distractions of a traditional classroom setting. This can help to build their confidence, motivation, and encourage them to continue their studies beyond their time in prison. 

However, there are challenges to providing online learning in prisons. One major challenge is the need for secure and reliable internet access, which may be limited or unavailable in many prisons. Additionally, security concerns may limit the types of technology that can be used, and access to the internet may be restricted or closely monitored. 

Building Futures 

Advances in technological innovation have enabled the development of secure software solutions to combat these challenges. They can provide secure self-learning platforms that have a user-focused design based on the principle of normalisation, that provide access to content best suited to individual needs. These technological advantages can help to break the cycle of recidivism by providing individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully reintegrate into society upon release. It can also provide a sense of purpose and motivation, which will also improve mental health and well-being.

Building futures through online learning

In-cell learning in prisons has the potential to be a game-changer, not only in terms of reducing recidivism rates but also in providing more cost-effective and efficient means of delivering education to prisoners. With online courses, prisoners can access a wide range of subjects, from basic literacy and numeracy skills to advanced degrees and vocational training, without the need for additional resources or on-site instructors. 

Overall, access to in-cell learning in prisons is important, as it provides people in prison with access to education and training opportunities that can improve their lives and increase their chances of successfully reintegrating into society. It can help to break down barriers to education and build a foundation for success beyond prison walls. It can also help to reduce recidivism rates, by equipping prisoners with the skills and knowledge they need to find employment and reintegrate into society. 

SEE RELATED: Core’s Content Hub – Providing Over 100 Days of Resources

PREVIOUS BLOG: Core Systems Celebrated by Minister of Exports!