Learner Stories

The Jisc Digital Student project was set up to explore students’ expectations and experiences with digital technology. It has worked with learners in HE, FE and the Skills sector, and studied the experiences of online learners as well as traditional campus-based and work-based learners who are using digital technologies as part of their course.

Some of the project outcomes have been taken forward in partnership with student groups, including the National Union of Students and the Change Agents’ Network. A key recommendation arising from all the different strands of work is that organisations should treat learners as the experts in their own digital learning practice, and work with them to understand and improve their digital learning experience.

The Digital Learner Stories explore how the factors identified in the other studies are experienced by twelve real learners. This extension of the Digital Student project was requested by participants in consultation events, and has been supported by Jisc in response to that demand. It is hoped that the Learner Stories will:

  • inspire and encourage learners to try new things
  • showcase the rich diversity of digital practices available to learners
  • demonstrate the importance of supporting digital learning practices in all their diversity
  • argue for investment in digital access, on the basis that this make a real difference to learning outcomes
  • encourage teaching staff to develop a range of approaches, and to work with students to fully exploit the technologies available for learning
  • offer evidence to decision makers about how technology is supporting learners and enhancing their educational journey

The learners came to us through a network of contacts across the different sectors. They were chosen because they have faced different challenges and opportunities, and used digital technologies in a wide variety of ways to achieve success. For the most part we have simply let them tell their stories in their own words. You can download their stories below, along with some video clips that the learners created themselves, and a summary report of key themes to emerge.

We are hugely grateful to the twelve learners for sharing their experiences so openly. The project would not have been possible without their enthusiasm for digital learning and their desire to ‘give something back’.

Adriana’s story

Adriana is studying German and French on two separate evenings a week with Derby Adult Learning Services. She works full time.

Adriana’s video

Angela’s story

Angela is a first year A-level student at Portsmouth College where she is also part of the student Apple Ambassador team.

Angela’s video

Ben’s story

Ben, who is 27 years old, is a degree apprentice at Aston University where he is studying for a BSc in Digital and Technology Solutions. He works full time at Capgemini, an IT consultancy and outsourcing company, which has collaborated with Aston University to create this degree pathway.

 No video

Edafe’s story

Edafe  is an international student from Nigeria. He has completed a full-time Masters’ degree in Forensics and Cybersecurity at the University of Greenwich, graduating in January 2017.

Edafe’s video

Jade’s story

Jade has recently completed a Level 3 AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) course at Bradford College. She was sponsored by her employer and studied one day a week at the college while working full time.

Jade’s video

Jess’ story

Jess is studying part time for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with the Activate Learning group while he works as a lecturer on their Reading campus. He has a BA from the Open University.

Jess’ video

Mauro’s story

Mauro is a first year student at the University of Southampton, studying Acoustical Engineering. He is also part of the iChamp team at the university.

Mauro’s video

Melissa’s story

Melissa completed a BTEC in Sport, Coaching and Fitness at a further education college in 2010. After going on to study a BA in Event Management at the University of Lincoln, she is now a post-graduate student on the MA in Events Management course at the same University. In the final year of her undergraduate course Melissa was a Digital Student Ambassador.  

Melissa’s video

Pepieter’s story

Pepieter completed a Level 3 Media course in a further education college and is now in year 2 of a Media Production BA at the University of Bournemouth.

Pepieter’s video

Ray’s story

Ray was a history teacher. He lives in Australia and studies online with Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. Ray is quadriplegic and has limited use of his hands. He uses a stylus to navigate on his devices.

Ray’s video

Sky’s story

Sky is on a 2 year NVQ Creative Digital Media Apprenticeship course at Basingstoke College of Technology (BCOT).

Sky’s video

Victoria’s story

Victoria is a first-year student at the University of Southampton. She has completed a Foundation Art course and is currently doing a BA in Fashion and Marketing.

Victoria’s video

Summary report: key themes from the learner stories