The LExDis project has been exploring the e-learning experiences of disabled learners within one institution; The University of Southampton but has now expanded its website to allow others to add their experiences. The need for such a project has been highlighted by previous JISC studies of learners’ experiences, which identified the value of learning from the particular issues that applied to disabled students, noted the near impossibility of ascertaining a disabled learner’s experience solely from observable behaviour and recommended further studies. Based on our extensive knowledge and experience of working with disabled students, it is our view that there are many very special issues that will not be fully understood or illuminated by a general study of a cohort that includes only one or two disabled students. Recognising that disabled students are not a homogenous group, students with a wide range of disabilities and experiences of using e-learning and assistive technologies at Southampton, will be included in the study.
The LExDis project will contribute to the field of knowledge by developing user-centred participatory methods that produce rich in-depth descriptions of the e-learning experiences of disabled students and help practitioners, support staff, managers, learners and developers address with some confidence the issues faced by disabled students in higher education. This project will have an important impact on wider participation and ease transition issues for those requiring equal access to on-line teaching and learning. The 62.3% institutional contribution reflects the fact that the results of the project’s research will help The University of Southampton to achieve the objectives of its learning and teaching and e-learning enhancement strategies.
Aims and Objectives
The overarching aim is to increase our understanding of the many complex issues and interactions introduced by disabled learners’ requirements for accessible e-learning, compatible assistive technologies and effective learning support.
The specific objectives we wish to achieve are the:
- Exploration and description of how disabled learners experience and participate in learning in technology-rich environments
- Investigation of the strategies, beliefs and intentions of disabled learners who are effective in learning in technology-rich environments and identity factors that enable or inhibit effective e-learning
- Development of user-centred methodologies for eliciting the e-learning experiences of disabled students and disseminate these widely in order to promote a participatory approach to designing and evaluating e-learning
- Development of recommendations for those involved in designing learning systems and developing support services for disabled students based on our understanding of their diverse needs, experiences and preferences