Towle, G. and Howe, R. (2008) Pyjama learning: learner transitions. Other presented to: Association for Learning Technology 15th International Conference (ALT-C 2008): Rethinking the Digital Divide, University of Leeds, 9-11 September 2008.
This paper discusses initial findings of an ongoing research project investigating learners' experiences of e-learning. The E4L project, one of seven funded by the JISC, looks at the learners' perspective of e-learning from Adult and Community Learning (ACL), Further and Higher Education. Learners were sampled based on their proficiency as e-communicators using a modified version of Salmon's 5-step model. E4L is investigating three core themes: learners transitions, use of shadow technologies (technologies they use alongside those provided or endorsed by their institution) and light bulb moments (moments of inspiration when using technology for learning). Semi-structured interviews were conducted, focusing on certain key areas. Before the interviews, learners were asked to complete a flowchart of their educational progress and include the details of the hardware and software they used at each stage. During the interview, the educational flowcharts were used as an interview plus method (the use of an artefact created by the interviewee to promote discussion) and learners were questioned on these personal transitions and their use of technology. This paper explores the initial findings from the learners' data and discusses the transitions of learners from multiple educational levels. The data indicates that transitions are not a singular occurrence and can occur in different ways: course to course, institution to institution, or year to year within a course. The background of a learner's educational and technological experience is important not only to understand the ability of the learner but also why their use of technology may have increased or decreased. It is through listening to the learners themselves and identifying the challenges and inspirations they face that teaching practices and e-learning materials created for their use can be better tailored to provide a more integrated learning experience. The data indicates the learners' transitions have been successfully explored and aided with the educational flowchart during the interview process. Although the learner's educational and technological journey is a personal one, similarities and differences in the use of technology and why they used technology at a certain point in their educational career is evident. The requirements of the methodology have meant that only small numbers could be interviewed to obtain the rich information within the timescales of the project. The use of an educational flowchart for further development and investigation into a greater number of students is recommended