A trip to the lovely city of York provided the venue for my first visit to the Higher Education Academy. The focus of the event was the dissemination of the outcomes a group of projects funded by the JISC e-Learning Programme which is investigating learners' experiences of e-learning.
This is the second phase of projects focusing on the learners' perspectives of e-learning (see In Their Own Words for the outcomes of phase 1) and as well as producing case studies of individual learner's experiences, I was particularly interested in the methods used to elicit authentic accounts from learners about the use of technology in the context of their learning.
I've been involved in facilitating focus groups in our supported institutions with learners and found it quite a challenge to get a full picture of where technology fits into a learner's own learning strategies. It's easy enough to find out what part institutionally provided systems and resources play but harder to find out what learners prefer to use themselves and I think a lot could be learned from investigating this further.
Some guidance on learner-centred evaluations based on the Phase 1 studies is available and useful examples of learner consent and learner profiling forms are available from the JISC. Methodologies explored by the JISCle2 projects have been packaged as toolkits and are available from the JISCle2 website now.
I found both the interview plus methodology, email Pen Pal methodology particularly interesting and plan to investigate further with a view to incorporating them into own our focus group methodology. I'll keep you posted on developments.