Two large studies ( Creanor et al 2006 , Conole et al 2006 ) plus the Support and Synthesis project ( Sharpe et al ):
The aim of the study was to investigate learners’ current experiences and expectations of e-learning across the broad range of further, higher, adult, community and work-based learning.
This study explored how learners' experiences with e-learning differ in different learning and teaching contexts, working in collaboration with 4 HEA subject centres.
Learners in the studies said…
“ To me it’s just learning, the fact it’s online as apposed to in a classroom is irrelevant, it’s just another way of accessing it... it strikes me as quite old fashioned and quite quaint, but talking to other people they're like 'oh wow! Its online! It’s e-learning!' and I think it depends on where you're coming from what it means to you, but for me I just think of it as learning and I don't use the term.”
(Adult online learner from LEX study)
“ I'm addicted, it's the first thing I turn on in the morning before I even wake up and actually it's very, very bad. I think in the future people can't cope without their laptops. My main use … My Space and Messenger and e-mail … information gathering … current affairs, news. I have alerts coming into me so I get information and then I use search engines for academic purposes.”
(Undergraduate Business student LEX study)
The first thing I do when given any piece of work is type it into a search engine! This gives me the opportunity to see how different people interpret the title. From there I can focus on one main idea and use the electronic resources to support my initial findings or indeed rule them out.
(University student from LXP study)
What did we conclude from Phase 1?
Learners have high expectations of institutional technologies with regards to access, communication, consistency and functionality
Learners expect to be able to personalise institutional technologies and to use personal technologies in the institutional environment
The Internet is the first port of call for information: sites such as Wikipedia are preferred to academically approved resources
Communication technologies most used by learners are also often outside institutional control (mobile phones, Skype, chat): there is an ‘underworld’ of social networking in support of learning
What did we conclude from Phase 1?
Learners display enormous differences in past educational experiences, expectations, needs, and motivations, and in use of technologies
Issues for learners are the emotional significance of learning, perceived cost and convenience of technologies, and time management
Learners take a holistic view of e-learning: they see technologies as part of their learning and their lives
Learner Experiences of e-Learning - Phase 2 ( March 2007-March 2009)
Phase 2: seven focused studies plus a support and synthesis project
Focus on eight high-level research questions, which have been refined through discussions across the projects
Sharing methodological challenges and some collaborative data collection
Shared approach to purposive sampling, qualitative data, participative ethos
Phase 2 Projects
BLUPS - University of Warwick & University of Northumbria
Examine the ways in which new undergraduate students blend the modes of learning available to them, both from the personal and the institutional using a sample of 1st year undergraduates at Warwick and Northumbria
e4L - Northampton University, Northampton College, Northamptonshire Adult and Community Learning
Learners in transition between FE and HE and (hopefully) between ACL and F/HE and changes in attitude to e-learning provision as they progress in different educational contexts.
LEAD - University of Edinburgh
The involvement and impact of learning technology on learners' transition to University and how their use of learning technology changes as they progress through their first year
LEXDIS - University of Southampton
An exploration of the e-learning experiences of disabled learners within one institution
PB-LXP - The Open University
Students studying on work-based courses and students’ experience and use of technologies in different locations, including their work places
STROLL - University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire Regional College
A longitudinal view of learning journeys across two years and three academic cohorts; from FE students through to graduating students at the end of their 3 year BSc/BA programme
THEMA - Oxford University Computing Services
An institutional study of students engaged in full-time and part-time Master’s degree programmes at the University of Oxford , in blended environments
Key Research Questions
How do specific groups of students experience technology?
For example, accessibility issues for disabled students, refugees, international students, work based learners, etc
What is the experience of the highly skilled online communicators and networkers?
How do learners experience change through their learner journey, especially at points of transition (e.g. induction)?
What are the critical choices that learners make?
For example, where and how to study?
How do learners make use of the technology in ways that are unexpected or unsupported by their institutions?
Personalisation and adaptation - How are learners personalising and adapting their tools and environments?
How do students conceive of the role of technology in their learning?
What is the impact of institutional strategies and course level practices?
Support and Synthesis activities
Four face-to-face workshops
Evaluation guidelines (plus workshop in October)
Learner profile (shared with other programmes/projects)
Ongoing synthesis and dissemination
Expected key outcomes from Phase 2
Guidelines for practitioners, institutions and learners
Research papers and publications
Surveys and profiles
Recommendations for the JISC and other high-level policy makers
For more information
Go to the JISC website for links to all the projects in the programme
Contact Sarah Knight, Programme Manager, e-Learning – firstname.lastname@example.org