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Project Approach and Outcome

Overall Approach

The LExDis project will use a "participatory" [1],[2] research methodology, with a focus on the learner voice’ where disabled students are involved as consultants and partners not just as research subjects and help to identify and (re)frame the research questions; work with the researchers to achieve a collective analysis of the research issues and bring the results to the attention of each of the constituencies that they represent (disabled students, HE staff). Following consultation with the project participants (disabled learners), it is anticipated that a variety of approaches to eliciting the learner experience will be used that build on techniques used in previous JISC projects:

  • Defining what ‘effective’ means relative to learners’ own goals and self-perceptions, and the difference technology has made to their experience of learning
  • Combining an adaptation of phenomenographic (IPA) [3] and ethnographic approaches
  • Eliciting learner narratives through audio recorded semi-structured interviews and identifying uses of technology through written and audio logs through Interview Plus methodologies
  • Using artefacts (e.g. blogs, e-portfolios, wikis) actually produced by learners as a means of helping the learner to reflect in depth on the technologies used, their learning strategies and social and learning impact
  • Using social software and concept mapping software to support analysis.

The critical success factors of this project include:

  • The number of students that take part and the technologies they bring to the various e-learning environments
  • The skills and abilities of the students to portray their thoughts as well as the competent analysis of the data provided by the team
  • The wide dissemination of outcomes

Project Outputs

The deliverables of the project will include:

  • 30 case studies describing disabled learners’ different experiences of learning and the role e-learning and other technologies plays in those experiences
  • A summary report detailing how the research questions have been addressed and drawing out lessons learned from the particular institutional context
  • A brief methodological report outlining the tools and techniques used, together with any tools developed and any transcripts produced
  • A critique of the chosen methodology
  • Recommendations and guidance for practitioners, support staff, institutional managers, learners, content providers, instructional designers, technical and program developers.

Project Outcomes

This project will:

  • Enhance the understanding of interactions undertaken by disabled students using Assistive Technologies with their e-learning materials.
  • Enable teaching and learning communities, instructional designers and web developers to recognise issues around ease of use, accessibility and Design for All principles in the field of e-learning through the student’s voice linked to guidelines.
  • Encourage further interest by staff at the University of Southampton’ in the provision of accessible, easy to use e-learning materials by providing real case scenarios.
  • Guidance for future research as to how the methodologies used influenced the project outcomes


[1] Chappell, A (2000) Emergence of participatory methodology in learning difficulty research: understanding the context. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28,38-43
[2] Kitchin, R (2000) The researched opinions on research: disabled people and disability research. Disability & Society, 15,1, 25-47
[3] Reid, K. Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2005), Exploring Lived Experience, The Psychologist, 18, 1, 20-23.