Temporal experiences of e-learning by distance learners

Leeds, Beverly (2014) Temporal experiences of e-learning by distance learners. Education + Training, 56 (2). pp. 179-189. ISSN 0040-0912

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ET-11-2012-0114


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore experiences of e-learners in relation to their time preferences, and to examine how technology changes temporal culture in e-learning. Design/methodology/approach: A pilot study using multiple methods of data collection to provide a rich picture of the experience of e-learners in relation to temporal flexibility. Taking a narrative approach it analysed data from a survey, time tracking data as well as data from online discussion boards, learners' assignments and short telephone interviews. Findings: The study found e-learners may experience temporal culture shock when starting to study online for the first time. It highlights the need to explore an individual's time preference and to consider the temporal culture of the e-learning programme. Research limitations/implications: It highlights that the issue of time is still missing from educational studies and suggests that temporal aspects are included in e-learning research studies. This is a small exploratory study but it indicates the need for further research to explore the potential for temporal culture shock and influence of e-learner time preferences. Practical implications: Designing an e-learning environment for learners needs to consider learner time preferences to ensure that temporal flexibility is a realised benefit, not a barrier to learning. The temporal culture of the online learning environment also needs to be made explicit so that learner expectations can be managed. Originality/value: It contributes to the literature on e-learning in the higher education context by providing a temporal lens to explore learner experiences. It is of value to educationalists and learning technologists designing, delivering or evaluating e-learning programmes. Online learners may also benefit from its findings. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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