“Education for prisoners should be like the education provided for similar age-groups in the outside world, and the range of learning opportunities should be as wide as possible” (Council of Europe Recommendation on Education in Prison, 2011). However, the survey on prison education and training in Europe (Hawley, Murphy & Souto-Otero, 2012) highlights the needs for providing a broad educational offer, in order to meet the varying needs of individual inmates. This survey also suggests that flexible alternatives to the ‘traditional’ format of classroom education need to be explored. This paper aims to analyze the potential of e-learning in contributing to the digital inclusion of adults in situations of social exclusion, specifically European inmates. From a theoretical perspective, it focuses on the concepts of digital literacy, lifelong learning and digital inclusion. From the methodological point of view, European projects on e-learning in prisons were analyzed in order to identify the barriers and possibilities of e-learning in this context as a means of digital inclusion. The main barriers are related to security issues, access, maintenance of technological equipment and with the motivation of adults to participate in learning activities throughout life. The potential of e-learning is related with increasing learning opportunities, diversification of resources and potential for customization and collaborative work.
Keywords: E-learning, lifelong learning, adult education, prison education.