Virtual Society?

the social science of electronic technologies

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Learning sites: networked resources and the learning community

Principal Researcher

Dr Professor Paul Light
King Alfred's College Winchester
P.Light@wkac.ac.uk

Co-Workers

Mr David Barrowcliff
Milward Brown Precis
david.barrowcliff@uk.mbprecis.com


Dr Charles Crook (contact)
Dept. of Human Sciences
Loughborough University
Loughborough
Leicestershire LE11 2TU
+44 (0)1509 223032
c.k.crook@lboro.ac.uk

Ms Vivienne Light
University of Southampton
viv@psy.soton.ac.uk

Ms Emma Nesbitt
Bournemouth University
enesbitt@bournemouth.ac.uk

Ms Su White
University of Southampton
saw@ecs.soton.ac.uk

Research Period
1 October 1997 to
30 September 1999
Background/Context
Aims and Objectives
Project Design
Implications

Background/Context

The rapid expansion of universities in a stringent economic climate, coupled with the need to sustain standards, is placing great strain on traditional provision. Higher education is having to become more affordable, and provide a more flexible learning environment. Information technology is seen by many as offering the best prospect for achieving these goals given that computer networks potentially take many of the space-time constraints out of learning.

Aims and Objectives

One strand of the project concerns the provision of full electronic network access from university study / bedrooms. Another concerns student use of email, both for academic and social purposes. A third strand focuses on courses where computer mediated communication is being used to supplement conventional teaching. In all of these areas the researchers are seeking to establish what individual and social factors influence students' response to network tools and resources, and to assess the impact of these technologies upon the experience of being a student at a campus based university.

Project Design

The Learning Sites project is a collaboration between Bournemouth University, as lead site, and the Universities of Loughborough and Southampton. Researchers at all three universities are engaged in coordinated studies of ways in which technology is impacting on the experience of full time undergraduate study. The project aims to encourage the adoption of an ecological (or 'cultural psychological') approach to learning at this level by refining appropriate methods and by providing convincing case studies showing the productivity of this approach.

Implications

The research is intended to help to inform policy and practice in relation to the introduction of networked computing resources in higher education. Our most important constituency of 'users' are universities themselves, and those others who are concerned with the development of HE policy. At the same time the study should prove timely and relevant to an aspect of the 'virtualisation' of society that will directly impinge on a substantial proportion of the population, and carry implications for many other aspects of life in a networked society.

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Page developed and maintained by Christine Hine
Contents current at 6 June 2002