Making our way through the e-world: Chinese adult elearners’
University of Southampton, School of Education,
The thesis describes an investigation into Chinese adult learners’ learning experiences through case studies of two e-learning programmes conducted in China that were significantly different from each other in their original design. Margaret Archer’s critical realist account of structure and agency informs the theoretical framework of this study. The interactions between individual learners and their e-learning environments combined with their wider social cultural contexts, as manifested in their e-learning experiences are examined mainly through the lens of learners’ reflexivity. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and detailed accounts on learners’ experiences are given from qualitative data, obtained from interviews, digital diaries, informal discussions and reports. Learners were found to be exercising high level of reflexivity as the basis of their decision making in every aspects of their learning, including their commitment to learn, the formation of a learning community, the use made of learning technologies, adaptation to a new learning environment. The findings suggest that e-learning experiences are not technology-driven nor context determined. These findings have significant implications for e-learning design by reassuring the importance in understanding learners’ personal power and social context. They also caution against uncritical direct transfer of educational practice from one context to another.
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