School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr James Stanfield



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James is a Lecturer in Education and his research interests include:

  • understanding the impact of the Internet on education, teaching and learning; 
  • investigating how Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) evolve over time;
  • exploring the relationship between art and technology;
  • understanding the relevance of complexity theory across the sector as a whole;  
  • understanding the relevance of the Principles for Digital Development to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals in education.

His current research is looking into the impact on student voice of introducing Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) in schools and daycare centres in Moldova, Ukraine and Romania.

James is the Module Leader for ‘EDU8213 - The Future of Learning’ and EDU8228 'Investigating Technology Enhanced Learning' and is the pathway leader for the MA Education: International Perspectives (Technology in Education).  From 2014-2018 James also played a key role in the development and launch of the new BA (Hons) Education.

James was Chair of the University Task and Finish Group on Learning Analytics from 2017-2018 and he is also a member of the steering group for NUTELA - Newcastle University Advocates for Technology Enhanced Learning and the Technology Enhanced Learning Sub-Committee of the Faculty Education Committee.


Each year James is the dissertation supervisor for several MA students on the MA International Development in Education and the MA Education: International Perspectives.  

James is also currently helping to supervise the following PhD students:

  • Gemma Mitchelson - 
  • Jing Jang -  
  • Gillian Brown - 
  • Fatma Otain - Future of Learning: A Case Study of the Implementation of SOLE in a Saudi Primary School
  • Leonidia Lymperi - Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) and EFL proficiency attainment in primary schools operating in remote areas of Greece.
  • Shatha Mohammed M Almalki - A narrative study to explore Saudi pre-service school teachers experiences of using electronic reflective journals during their field experience.
  • Mohammed Alwagdani - Investigating the Impact of Flipped Learning on Students Engagement and Achievement in a Saudi High School
  • Khadija Mohamud (Open University) - Investigating the Impact of Independent Edtech Learning Kiosks in Uganda.

Successfully completed PhD students:

  • Sally Rix - Self Organised Learning Environments: Appropriation in an English Secondary School Context.
  • Malik Hamed Saif Al Zakwani - Developing Proficiency in the Context of English as a Foreign language Learning in a Foreign Language Centre in Oman: An Action Research of the Application of a SOLE Pedagogy.
  • Yang Du - Electronic Devices as a Resource for Getting 'On Task' and Deepening Group Knowledge: a Multimodal Conversation Analytic investigation of a Self Organised Learning Environment at a UK university.
  • Gopal Iyer - The effectiveness of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in Delphi, India.
  • Edward Bannerman Wood - Stakeholders perception of the work of the non-academic middle managers in two universities Ghana.


I am currently the Primary Investigator on the following funded research project:

Using SOLE Across Boundaries in Romania, Ukraine and Moldova, CARITAS 2017-2019 (£90,000)

SOLE is being introduced in a number of schools and daycare centres in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova and we are evaluating the impact on children, teachers and families as well as the relationships between these groups.  We are looking for evidence that children are developing learning habits which enable them to Dream Achieve, Realise and Express and how these might empower children to develop their 'voice'.  Over 1,000 students are taking part in this 2-year study.

Investigating the use of tablet computers in Tanzania - the student and teacher perspective 2016-2018 (£39,000)

School in the Cloud 2013-2017 ($1 million)  

From 2013 - 2017 James worked alongside Professor Sugata Mitra on the $1 million TED Prize School in the Cloud project.  James supported the development of the School in the Cloud global platform and the development of SOLE projects in different countries around the world: SOLE ColombiaSOLE AustraliaSTART SOLE (USA)SOLE Argentina.  The accumulation of this work resulted in SOLE being identified as one of the top 100 global innovations in education in 2018 by the Finnish organisation, hundrED.


From 2015-2018 James was the lead Education Consultant on the Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) - a £40 million DfID challenge fund in Tanzania.  James helped to assess new funding applications and provided technical support to all education grantees.  James also led on the development of case studies relating to the Principle for Digital Development.  Download the report Digital Innovation for Social Change: Principles into Practice (2018) and the related case studies.  This consultancy work generated an income of over £350,000 and it also led to additional research funding (see above).  

Professional activities

  • Investigating Student Collaboration within Self Organised Learning Environments, a paper presented at International Conference on Modern Research in Education, Training and Learning - 5-7 June 2019.


  • Module leader: EDU8213 - The Future of Learning
  • Module leader: EDU8228 - Investigating Technology Enhanced Learning