Digging Deeper with Delphi: The Four Step Alberta Approach


  • Peter Mozelius Mid Sweden University, Department of Computer and System Science
  • Martha Cleveland-Innes Athabasca University, Canada
  • Marcia Håkansson Lindqvist Mid Sweden University
  • Jimmy Jaldemark Mid Sweden University




Delphi method, Delphi studies, Structured expert forecasts, Qualitative research, The Four Step Alberta Approach


Originally the Delphi method was created as a systematic research process for establishing agreement and structured forecasts in groups of experts. The method is based around the idea that the agreed judgement from several experts is more accurate and valuable than the judgement from a single expert. In a traditional Delphi study, the selected experts respond to several rounds of questionnaires with aggregated and shared answers among the expert group. A highlighted strength of the Delphi method is its ability to progress into new forms and implementations. Delphi studies have been used for different purposes such as identifying trends, creating guidelines and to develop theory. The aim of this study is to describe and discuss the Delphi study approach that has been developed by researchers in Alberta, Canada. In an effort to dig deeper into the ongoing transformation of higher education for technology enhanced and lifelong learning, the four steps were further modified in a Swedish Canadian study. In a qualitative Delphi study, the four steps were implemented as 1) A literature study to explore the chosen topic, with the selected publications sent out to the expert panel, 2) A survey with questions to the experts based on the findings in the literature study, 3) Email interviews to dig deeper into the answers from the survey, and finally 4) Focus group interviews based on the results from the previous steps. Findings from the various steps have been presented at conferences and published in research journals. The conclusion is that this modified and extended Delphi process has generated a rich set of data that can be used to develop a theoretical framework. At the same time the presented four step approach is time consuming and requires a research team that can work together during a longer time period.

Author Biographies

Martha Cleveland-Innes, Athabasca University, Canada

Dr. Martha Cleveland-Innes is a Professor of Education at Athabasca University. Martha is the Editor-in-Chief of the bilingual Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology.

Jimmy Jaldemark, Mid Sweden University

Jimmy Jaldemark is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Education, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden. He has worked with developing networked learning in Sweden for 25 years, including administration, researching, teaching, and assessment of networked educational settings. His current research interest concerns collaborative, lifelong, mobile, and networked aspects of learning.