A Study of Informal Community eLearning John Cook, Principal Research Fellow Learning Technology Research Institute, London Metropolitan University & Matt Smith, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Dublin
1. Introduction • Submitted to British Educational Communications and Technology Association • Cook, J. and Smith, M. (2002). Final Report for Study of UK Online Centres
1. Introduction • In the UK about 6-7000 UK online centres across all parts of the country. • Facilitate the political goal whereby • Everyone in the UK is to have eGovernment services connectivity by 2005 • Achieved by ‘citizen’s access points’ • Probably to be located at local UK online centres
1. Introduction • Aim of the UK online centres is to bridge digital divide • UK online centres playing a expanding role in formal and informal community based learning • Link to CD
1. Introduction • The goal of our study • Gain an improved understanding of the social context of UK online centres • Examine Issues around the creation and exchange of knowledge within and between online community centres
2. Research methods • Grounded theory and a pilot study were used to guide research • Data from detailed interviews • twelve workers and users at • five centre • transcribed and analysed (over 100 person hours on this alone)
2. Research methods • The gender breakdown of subjects was 5 male and 7 female • The findings from analysis informed the design of a questionnaire • Sixteen telephone interviews with centre staff in nine regions
2. Research methods • Scores described in the results refer to the occurrence of a concept in the data • Score per concept are expressed as percent of total number of concepts that were coded (total = 1992) • Initial low level theorising took place in the form of category and concept formation
3. Results • Concept ‘external organisation links’ scored highest, having a 13.15% occurrence rate.
3. Results Concept of ‘goals’ refers to the centre manager or activity designer or the goal of centre a user/beneficiary. The high occurrence of goals (having an 8.38% occurrence rate) made it the second most identified concept.
3. Results • The range of goals that motivate users and staff for self improvement and the collective improvement of others in the community were found to be various and powerful
3. Results A goal of subject 8, a centre coordinator, was “What we would like to do is get the younger children, … [to be] mentored by the older children that come in; so if we can get, sort of, boys that are around 17, 18, 19 and upwards to mentor those that are like 10, 11, 12 you know. And that’s something that we’re looking at right now to identify the need for mentoring.”
3. Results • ‘Inhibitor’ concept had the third highest occurrence rate at 6.88%. • Inhibitor refers to issue of limitations placed on centre by external forces or problems that are raised by interviewees.
3. Results • Support for the high level category of a ‘life cycle’ was found • Life cycle is defined as evidence of progression over time stages • Concepts associated with life-cycle are goal, change, progression, confidence, centre beneficiary life cycle, centre life cycle, centre staff life cycle
3. Results • Progression routes from informal learning in community settings was the focus of McGivney’s (1999) study. • “in the context of adult learning, ‘progression’ can mean several things – personal progression, social progression, economic progression and educational progression. These frequently overlap.” • In this study, progression was taken to mean evidence of an advancement of person’s goals, knowledge, viewpoint, ambitions and/or confidence. This progression takes place over a period of time and will include a value judgement
3. Results • Centre beneficiary life cycle (having an 2.46% occurrence rate) • Centre life cycle (having an 2.86% occurrence rate) • Centre staff life cycle (having an 2.56% occurrence rate)
3. Results • ICT literacy life cycle users • first underwent ICT literacy (having an 2.56% occurrence rate), • they may then have gone on to engage in an ‘online community’ (having an 3.46% occurrence rate) and • perhaps only then would centre users make use of ‘eLearning’ (having an 2.01% occurrence rate). • Currently there is a reliance on eLearning provided by the BBC (Webwise) and LearnDirect.
community and neighbour-hood renewal UK online centres: goals & inhibitors external organisations: funding, accreditation, qualifications, eGovernment, etc. workers: goals & inhibitors users: goals & inhibitors ICT literacy life cycle as vehicle for confidence & progression 4. Conclusions