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The ‘e-Learning for learners’ (e4L) project will look at a representative sample of learners (including workbased, international and disabled) on 7 key modules throughout the three institutions using semi-structured interviews to better understand how learners experience and participate in e-learning – particularly focusing on those areas which use e-assessment, e-portfolios and social software.

e-Learning for learners (e4L)


Have you engaged in an online discussion, uploaded your holiday photos or posted a comment about a video or news article on the internet? Welcome to the world of Web 2.0, the second generation of web based services. These services enable users to create the content by various means such as blogging, updating wikis (Wikipedia), uploading videos (You Tube) and social networking (MySpace).

There has been an increase in the use of these new technologies for recreational purposes but research into their potential for learning is at early stages. The University of Northampton has some experience in using new technology for blended learning where teaching is conducted traditionally and electronically. Keen to continue as an innovator in learning and teaching, the University of Northampton formed a consortium with Northampton College and Northamptonshire Adult and Community Learning (ACL) to successfully bid for funding of 80K to conduct research into the learners' experience of e-learning using Web 2.0 technologies over a period of two years.

This JISC/HEFCE funded project, called E-learning for Learners (E4L) will look at a representative sample of learners on a number of different courses and use semi-structured interviews to better understand how learners experience and participate in e-learning, focusing on their transition, use of shadow technologies and their light bulb moments.


To investigate learners' opinions and experiences about e-learning from adult and community learning, further and higher education; particularly three core themes of their transitional periods, use of shadow technologies and light bulb moments.


  • To gain a better understanding of the modules the learners are taking and the motivations for including e-learning on the courses by interviewing tutors.
  • To ascertain which learners are effective e-communicators through the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) and questionnaire.
  • To investigate learners opinions and experiences of e-learning through individual interviews particularly of the three core themes.
  • To ascertain the learners opinions and experiences of e-learning as they have progressed through their module, using a questionnaire.
  • To analyse the data gathered and produce a series of rich interactive case studies and recommendations and guidance for all stakeholders.

As a result of this research, the project will produce a series of case studies and specific guidance that will benefit the consortium partners and will inform the wider education sector about student expectations for Web 2.0 and learning and the best practice for design and delivery.


The project intends to use both primary and secondary research methods to elicit data from the learners. The primary research methods are approaches that will be undertaken in the project (use of VLE to help selection of learners for continued participation, interviews and questionnaires) whereas the secondary methods are dependent on learner participation (continued use of VLE throughout the project for discussion and feedback, use of answer phone to leave comments and also focus groups). If the secondary research methods are not possible, they will not detract from the overall data gathering process.

Lead institution

The University of Northampton

Project partners
Project Plan

Project plan (Word)


1. Rugg (2002) Eliciting information about organizational culture via laddering in Information Systems Journal Vol 12, July 2002, p215 

Project Staff

Project Manager
Project Team
  • Dr Caroline Stainton, Tony Jewson, James Woolley, Rachel Fitzgerald

Documents & Multimedia

Start date
1 March 2007
End date
28 February 2009
Funding programme
e-Learning Pedagogy programme
Project website