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Jane Seale, Jan Georgeson, Christoforos Mamas & Julie Swain Digital capital and inclusion: an exploration of the technology and e- learning experiences.

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Presentation on theme: "Jane Seale, Jan Georgeson, Christoforos Mamas & Julie Swain Digital capital and inclusion: an exploration of the technology and e- learning experiences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jane Seale, Jan Georgeson, Christoforos Mamas & Julie Swain Digital capital and inclusion: an exploration of the technology and e- learning experiences of disabled university and college students

2 TEDS: Technology Experiences of Disabled Students Motivation: – To replicate (in part) JISC funded LEXDIS study conducted at Southampton University in 2008 (Seale et al. 2010) Students studying at Plymouth university including partner colleges – 10,000 students studying off-campus – To build a conceptual framework: examine in more detail existence and influence of digital capital (Seale, 2012) – To address question raised by LEXDIS study: Why despite having significant digital capital prior to coming university, did some disabled students make decisions to abandon or reject technologies?

3 Conceptual Framework Digital cultural capital Technological know-how Informally investing time in self-improvement of technology skills and competencies Participation in formal ICT education and training Influence of family and school in offering early and sustained access to technology and encouragement to use technology Digital social capital Networks of face-to-face technological contacts (e.g. friends, neighbours and tutors) Networks of online technological contacts Drawn from ideas of Bordieu, Putnam, Rojas et al. Selwyn

4 Key Questions Do disabled students possess digital cultural capital and digital social capital? To what extent does the digital cultural and social capital of disabled students influence whether and how they use technologies to support their learning?

5 Methods Online questionnaire survey using Survey Monkey of 175 disabled students Follow-up semi-structured interviews (f2f, phone) with 22 disabled students Analysis – SurveyMonkey- excel- descriptive statistics – Nvivo- thematic analysis Ethical approval obtained: 27/09/2011 – Application Number 10/11-92

6 The survey participants If 'Yes' in question above and you are willing to indicate the nature of your needs, please tick all that apply: Answer Options Response Percent Response Count Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Asperger Syndrome 7.8%12 Blind or partially sighted 3.3%5 Deaf or hard of hearing 6.5%10 Specific learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia) 56.2%86 Wheelchair user or mobility difficulties 9.2%14 Medical conditions (e.g. epilepsy, diabetes) / Mental health difficulties 34.6%53 Other difficulties (please specify) 19 answered question153 skipped question % of 175 respondents indicated that they required support or equipment to enable them to study or learn effectively

7 Digital inclusion = possession The top three personal technologies owned by respondents (n=166) were mobile phone (97.6%); laptop (95.8%) and iPod or MP3 player (67.5%) 52.4% of respondents (n=136) owned assistive technologies for their personal use. – The most common assistive technologies that survey respondents owned or had access to in order to support their learning were recording tools (78.7%); planning tools (67.6%) and reading tools (62.5%). Interviews: top-three most useful: laptop, dictaphone, read-write software 87.3% of 166 respondents indicated that they were able to use their personal technologies and assistive technologies at the place where they learn.


9 Technological know-how EXPERIENCED – 98.8% had experience of search engines, 97.6% had used an electronic library or portal and 92.7% had used online learning materials they had found for themselves (N=164) – 78.6% accessing online revision resources and 72.6% submitting materials for assessment online 72.6%. (N=157) – 99.4% of respondents have contacted tutors or peers using and 82.2% have accessed course materials via and online learning environment (n= 163) – 83.2% using a computing device to plan assignments and 69.9% using a computing device to record lectures (N=143) CONFIDENT – When asked to rate their confidence (0-10) in their ability to use technology to support their learning, the average rating was DISCERNING – 22 interviewees made 83 references to 19 affordances of technologies – 12 students made 19 references to 13 constraints of technologies I'm not the worst person, I'm probably in the middle, but I am not frightened to have a go. [10]

10 Influence of school, family, friends Just over half the respondents (N=153, 57.5%) said they were not encouraged by their school/college to undertake any formal ICT or technology related qualifications 43.8% of 153 respondents indicated that their family had a very positive attitude to technology and encouraged them to use it. – 44.1% of 152 respondents indicated that their family response to technology influenced their own technology use or experience. 7 of 22 interviewees noted a positive influence of school, family and friends, 8 of 22 interviewees noted no particular influence I went to two different secondary schools and one of them called itself a technology college so they were much more into kind of computer skills and kind of encouraging that sort of thing. [2]

11 Participation in formal ICT education or training Of those who said they did undertake formal qualifications (whether encouraged to or not), these ranged from: – GCSE in IT n=15; Touchtyping (e.g Pitman, RSA) n=9; Keyskills courses e.g EdExcel n=9; ICT module as part of an access course n=5; GNVQ n=4; Other ( BOIC, Btec, A Level, ECDL) n=6 For those who undertook a formal qualification 63.4% said the knowledge gained had not helped in their current technology use at college or university. (n=153) – Common reasons given= irrelevant, out of date Interviewees talked a lot about time invested in DSA related training to use specialist equipment

12 Informally investing time in self-improvement A handful of survey (~5) and interview respondents (~4) appear to have informally invested time in self-improvement in that they talk about how they are self-taught and therefore how others have had little influence on their skills A lot is self-taught [4] I have self taught myself over the years


14 Networks of f2f contacts: Asked which sources of support they accessed at university if they needed help using general technologies, respondents (n=144) indicated that their most helpful source of support was friends from the same course, privately funded support workers and lecturers. Asked which sources of support they accessed at university if they needed help using specialist technologies, respondents (n=144) indicated that their most helpful source of support was, privately funded support workers followed by friends from the same course and lecturers.

15 Networks of f2f contacts: Interviews: – 8 students talked about support from university staff, 7 from friends, and 5 from family – 4 students expressed a preference for f2f support Support from work has been really good and through the college I could not believe the support and guidance I have ben given to support my studies.. It has also helped me come to terms with my disability and realise that I am not alone and I can also achieve as well as others and I am not a problem I just need specific tools to support my learning. [17]

16 Networks of virtual online contacts 61 survey respondents indicated that they used online networks and forums if needed help with general technologies. This source was ranked 9 th (out of 10 sources) for helpfulness 54 survey respondents indicated that they used online networks and forums if needed help with specialist technologies. This source was ranked 7 th (out of 10 sources) for helpfulness Only 3 interviewees indicated they accessed virtual online support networks and only 2 students referred to virtual/remote provision when making suggestions for how to improve current support


18 10 interviewees made references to technology abandonment- most common technology specifically referred to was Dragon Dictate – Takes too long to learn, too much hassle to use For some students, the digital cultural capital that they have, does not appear to give them the resilience to overcome time pressures of university study so that they can invest time to learn how to use specialist technologies Whilst DSA and other specialist support is generally well regarded by students, it is not always delivered in a way that enables students to maximise benefits: – One-off, not in small bite- size chunks, not tailored Whilst disabled students do have social networks they can draw on, the helpfulness of non- specialist, non-university support appears limited

19 Discussion Cultural capital: – Bad design of ICT qualifications at school that do not prepare students for difficulties with less generic technologies or provide them with confidence to try/persist? – Students generally are not experiencing much specialist technology prior to coming to university Social capital: – Students are relying on specialist support, which can be great, but it is not always time sensitive so does not always prevent abandonment/non-use: A culture of reliance on formal support mechanisms? An accessibility/exclusion problem in relation to training delivery? – Students may turn to friends for support, but there is very little indication that they are turning to friends (e.g. disabled peers) who have used/are using specialist technologies A lack of bonding relationships – connections with similar people (Putnam) Stigma issues?

20 Thank you, any questions? Importance of support within college – established link to development of identity Challenge of developing a university awareness and identity – from campus navigation to subject specific ie: handing in coursework / fieldtrips – development of community TEDS was funded by Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory at Plymouth University For more information about the project please contact:

21 References Seale, Draffan, & Wald (2010) Digital agility and digital decision- making: Conceptualising digital inclusion in the context of disabled learners in higher education, Studies in Higher Education, 35, 4, Seale, J (2012) When digital capital is not enough: reconsidering the digital lives of disabled university students, Learning Media and Technology DOI: / Selwyn, N Reconsidering political and popular understandings of the digital divide. New Media & Society 6:3, Rojas, V., Roychowdhury, D., Okur, O., Straubhaar, J., & Estrada-Ortiz,Y Beyond access: cultural capital and the roots of the digital divide. In Media Access: Social and Psychological Dimensions of New Technology Use, eds. E. Bucy and J. Newhagen, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. uide Staff Booklet – Progression 2 Plymouth (P2P)

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