Students' Perception of Digital Technologies

Jacqueline Wong

In the age of information, a university student’s experience inevitably includes the use of digital technologies. The potential of digital technologies to support and enhance learning has been the focus of academic research. However, little is known about how students perceive the actual use of digital technologies as part of their university life.

Henderson, Selwyn, and Aston (2017) invited students from two universities in Australia to take part in an online survey to examine the types of digital technology that were perceived as most helpful for their university studies.  Based on the 1658 returned responses, 10 digital practices emerged:

  1. Organizing and managing the logistics of studying (46.9%)
  2. Flexibility of location and place (32.75)
  3. Saving time (30.6%)
  4. Reviewing, replaying and revising (27.9%)
  5. Researching information (27.9%)
  6. Supporting basic task (26.4%)
  7. Communicating and collaborating (16.8%)
  8. Augmenting university learning materials (14.6%)
  9. Seeing information in different ways (11.7%)
  10. Saving cost (4.4%)

The biggest benefit of digital technologies was reported for logistics of university study such as organising and meeting deadlines of assignments. Learning-related benefits were less often cited.  Slightly more than a quarter (27.9%) of the students regarded reviewing, replaying, and revising as a major benefit, and an even smaller (11.7%) group of students regarded seeing information in different ways as a benefit of digital technologies. The authors stressed that there is a gap in the way universities envision digital technologies and the way students are using digital technologies. Universities envision digital technologies to enhance learning by introducing greater collaboration, interaction, and participation. However, students are mainly using digital technologies to organize their schedules and to meet the demands of university life. Therefore, digital technologies have yet to transform the nature of teaching and learning in higher education. There is still a long road ahead to realize the full potential of digital technologies for teaching and learning.

Henderson, M., Selwyn, N., & Aston, R. (2017). What works and why? Student perceptions of ‘useful’digital technology in university teaching and learning. Studies in Higher Education42(8), 1567-1579.


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