The Learner and Their Context

This project, initiated as part of Becta’s major programme of research in support of the Government’s Harnessing Technology strategy in the UK, looked at the learning opportunities afforded by young people’s uses of new technologies in their everyday lives.

The focus of the research was to investigate how young people use technologies in their own contexts, away from formal education, with a particular focus on how they use those technologies in support of their learning.

The study has examined the experiences of learners right across the range of formal education, from primary school up to further and higher education, including those in non-mainstream settings such as learners in special schools, and looked after children. Where appropriate, the research also connected with parents, carers, employers and those responsible for policy implementation in local authorities.

The research incorporated a range of methods including: interviews with around 150 young people (aged 8-22, in years 4, 8, 10, FE and HE), discussing with them their experiences with new technologies in and out of school / college / university; 35 home case study visits, a nationally representative survey of 1069 young people in their homes and a series of in-depth studies of particular groups of young people, including those in families without extensive access to ICTs at home; vulnerable learners including Looked After Children and SEN learners; higher education students on vocational as well as those on non-vocational degrees; recent recruits into the workplace and their employers

The project began in April 2008 and ended in March 2011 (although Becta’s involvement ended in September 2010 as a result of its closure). A number of outputs of various forms have been (and continue to be) produced. A selection of project reports is below.  For more information about the project please contact the principal investigator Dr Chris Davies.

Becta publications

Davies, C., Good, J. and Cranmer, S (2009) Increasingly autonomous: learners using technology in the context of their family lives and beyond – 14 individual case studies. Coventry: Becta

Davies, C. (2008) Harnessing Technology: the learner and their context – interim report: benefits of ICT use outside formal education. Coventry: Becta

Davies, C. and Good, J. (2009) Increasingly autonomous: learners using technology in the context of their family lives and beyond: Analysis of a series of case studies conducted with learners in their homes. Coventry: Becta

Davies, C. and Good, J. (2009) Choosing to use technology: how learners construct their learning lives in their own contexts: key findings from the first year of research. Coventry: Becta

Eynon, R. (2009) Mapping young people’s uses of technology in their own contexts – A nationally representative survey. Coventry: Becta.

Davies, C., Chase, A., Good, J., and Spencer, D. (2010) The technology-based experiences of learners as they approach and enter the world of work. Oxford:  Department of Education, University of Oxford

Davies, C. and Spencer, D. (2010) Narrowing gaps and supporting the vulnerable.  Oxford:  Department of Education, University of Oxford

Davies, C. (2010) Synthesis of overall project findings and recommendations. Oxford:  Department of Education, University of Oxford