During 2005-09, the JISC e-Learning Programme is funding a two-phase theme on Learners’ Experiences of e-Learning. The aim of the programme is to inform the development of appropriate learning environments and tools and the effective design of learning activities for 21st century learners.

Learner experiences of e-learning phase 1

The e-Learning programme has funded a number of successful projects under the e-Learning and Pedagogy strand, which focus on helping practitioners to design effective learning activities. See the ouctomes from these projects. The e-Learning programme has funded a number of complementary projects, to focus on understanding the learner perspective on the role of ICT in learning, and to support the effective development and use of learning environments. Outcomes of the projects will be used to inform the development of the next generation of learning tools and services. Read the rationale to this theme

Background papers Learner-centred pedagogy: Individual differences between learners, by Terry Mayes and e-Portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: developments, issues and opportunities by Helen Beetham have also informed this theme.

Completed activities

Learner scoping study

Rhona Sharpe , Greg Benfield, (Oxford Brookes University), Ellen Lessner (Abingdon and Witney College) and Eta De Cicco (NIACE)
The project brief was to investigate learner’s current experience of e-learning and their needs and expectations for the future in order to provide the background and methodology for a study on learner experiences of e-learning across post-16 and higher education. Given the specification of the project brief and the time constraints, the scoping study team limited the review of available resources to gathering and examining published evidence using the following criteria: studies published since 2000;  studies which describe how learners engage with and experience e-learning; studies which identify what makes a difference to the learner’s experience;  studies which collected rich, qualitative data; studies which were interesting methodologically, whatever their findings. The project deliverables from this study are:

  • Database The actual database of included studies, annotated with keywords and notes from the scoping team (currently with 83 entries). This is available as an RTF file for downloading.
  • Key studies Some initial recommended readings for the research team.
  • Concept maps The maps developed started from the work of the Enhancing Teaching and Learning Environments project (Entwistle et al, 2002) and evolved as the team placed the findings from the database studies onto them.
  • Evaluation matrix This is a useful tool for specifying a research project to ensure only the data which is needed is collected. Examples of the matrix in use from e.g. NLN Transformation project, Northamptonshire. The evaluation matrix is available in the final report.
  • Final report
Learner experiences of e-learning (LEX) project

The research study on learners’ experiences of e-learning ‘Learner Experiences of e-Learning (LEX)’ has been awarded to a partnership between Glasgow Caledonian and the Open Learning Partnership. The year long research study will build on the work of the scoping study and compelted in August 2006.  The final reports are now available: Final reportMethodology report and LEX guidesSee further details on this project.

Learner experiences of e-learning (exploring subject differences)- LearnerXP project

A second learner study has now completed (November 2006) with funding from the Distributed e-Learning programme. This project was led by Grainne Connole and Maarten de Laart and aims to investigate learners’ experiences of e-learning in specific subject contexts. 4 HEA Subject Centres were involved in the project. See further information on this project. See the final report (PDF) appendix A survey (PDF) appendix B graphs (PDF) Appendix C Data set (only available on request), appendix D audio logs (PDF) appendix E interview questions (PDF) appendix F interviews summary (PDF)

The learner's voices

Xube Productions have produced 5 video clips of learners from further, higher and adult education settings, exploring what makes an effective learner. The clips contain interviews with a range of learners across the post-16 sector, who speak about the role of technology in their learning and in their lives. The video clips are available and will be included in a publication on The Learner's Voice (email: publications@jisc.ac.uk).

Synthesis and support project

Rhona Sharpe (Oxford Brookes University) & Greg Benfield (OBU); Eta DeCicco (NIACE) & Ellen Lessner (Abingdon and Witney College). The Sythesis and Support project has produced briefing guides which summarise the findings from the phase one studies.

  • Guide 1 (PDF) Recommendations for managers in post-16 institutions (HE)
  • Guide 2 (PDF) Recommendations for managers in post-16 institutions (FE)
  • Guide 3 (PDF) Recommendations for designers of learning activities
  • Guide 4 (PDF) Recommendations for researchers and course evaluators
  • Guide 5 (PDF) Recommendations for IT managers and staff

See guidelines on learner-centred evaluation

In Their Own Words

Further information is available on the publication, In Their Own Words, following its launch at ALT-C in September 2007. The publication synthesises the outcomes of Phase 1 of the Learner Experiences of e-Learning studies and contains a CD-ROM of associated resources, including the Phase 1 reports, the Learner’s Voice video case studies and the guides.

To order copies of In Their Own Words, email publications@jisc.ac.uk.

Related resources

See presentations from these projects which provide an overview of work to date and interim fundings.

Documents & Multimedia