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Helen Jelfs

OLnet Fellow Helen Jelfs

CC-BY Simon Buckingham Shum


Helen Jelfs

Project Title

Mapping Deeper Learning

Project Summary

The focus of Helen's OLnet Fellowship was on developing and extending the evidence hub emerging from current OLnet research around the impact of Open Educational Resources, and to respond to the Hewlett Foundation’s new priority on Deeper Learning. “Deeper Learning” covers the theory, methods, practice and impact of education which takes seriously the dispositions and skills of learning to learn and enquiry-based learning, two of the most fundamental concepts for learner engagement which sit at the heart of the 21st Century challenges which many now recognize as pivotal to the future mission of education: preparing “K-Life” learners (i.e. from early school days, to the current workforce, and beyond) to cope with dilemmas and levels of complexity that will make unprecedented demands on them intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

She worked with Simon Buckingham-Shum and Anna de Liddo, aiming to use and evaluate Cohere as a tool for enhancing the literature review process and its potential for collaborative learning around issues of shared significance with interested partners.

The premise is that by annotating and mapping deeper learning literature it will make OLnet even more relevant to the needs of the OER community in general, and to the Hewlett Foundation in particular, especially given they will need a quality research site to direct people to around this new thematic priority.

Dates visited OU UK

Fellowship period from April – July, and visited OU on 12th and 13th July 2011


University of Bristol, UK

Biographic information

Helen is a research Associate at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol.

Her current research focuses on the design and implementation of innovative pedagogies such as authentic enquiry, the theory and practice of ‘deeper learning’ and the relationship of learning to learn and the spiritual development of young people.

Recent research has included (1) ‘Learning Futures’, a project evaluating the impact of innovative pedagogies aimed at increasing student engagement in leading-edge schools, and (2) the ‘Spirituality, Learning and Personalisation’ project exploring the relationship between learning to learn and the spiritual development of young people.

After gaining her PhD, which focussed on the role of Church schools today, Helen Jelfs was a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at Liverpool Hope University where she taught on undergraduate courses in Initial Teacher Education and Education Studies. She has previously worked on the development of Learning Power, an assessment tool for building learning power dispositions in classrooms and was a fieldworker on the National Evaluation of Sure Start. She has also been a visiting lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of the West of England. She was formerly a primary school teacher.

Main Output

A literature review of Deeper Learning using the web-based annotation and discussion tool Cohere.


The key themes to emerge included: learner autonomy – highlighting the sub-themes of managing self and self-directed learning, making thinking and learning explicit and skills for a complex life; learning how to learn - highlighting the sub-themes of learning power, social and cooperative learning and meaningful learning; and a commonly held learning language highlighting the sub-themes of teachers’ beliefs about learning, authentic intellectual work and authentic pedagogy.

These ideas form the basis for ongoing collaborative work with partner organisations in the field of ‘Next practice’ or ‘deeper learning’ pedagogy.


Buckingham Shum, S (2011), 'Mapping the Deeper Learning Literature using Cohere',, 19 July [online], (Accessed 24 January 2012)

Dr Helen Jelfs using Cohere for mapping literature about Deeper Learning (2011), YouTube video, Added by OLnet [online], (Accessed 26 April 2012) - Embedded below.

IET Tech Coffee Morning - Mapping the Deeper Learning Literature using Cohere (2011), cloudworks, 13 July [online], (Accessed 24 January 2012)

Update Since Fellowship

On 12th November 2011, I introduced my OLnet Fellowship work to students on the MSc Systems Learning and Leadership programme in the GSoE, Univ of Bristol: a Cohere group around Systems Learning and Leadership has also been created.  On 24th November 2011, I also participated in a seminar as part of the Systems Learning and Leadership Seminar Series.