Technology has changed the mode of living in all aspects. Students pursuing higher education from distant universities need not travel and can access various source of informations through digital technology. Digital technology can facilitate their communication with teachers, people and friends in different countries. The traditional mode of education is no longer able to satisfy the academic requirements of the modern era (Gikas and Grant 2013). Therefore, there is a greater participation of students in digital learning. The paper aims to compare and contrast the views of different authors regarding the extent to which the higher education students are exploiting the opportunities provided by digital technology to aid their learning.
The study executed by Lai and Hong (2015) showed that digital technology has become integral part of the young people. The study validated the claim that thinking pattern of students of this generation is different from that of the predecessor. The results concluded that there are no generational differences in the use of technology among the higher education student and the learning characteristics. Therefore, among these students is the amount of time spent on digital technology was high but the range of technologies was limited. In similar study conducted two years ago by Bullen et al. (2011) it was found that the generation is not an issue for digital learners in higher education. There is no generational difference in the use of information and communication technologies in the higher education. It highlighted that the range of technologies used or the various opportunities used by the digital technology is limited among these students due to cost, familiarity and immediacy.
The exploratory study by Gikas and Grant (2013) obtained the perceptions of students in learning with the help of smart phones, cell phones and social media in higher education. The study results showed that most of the students perceived digital technology to be advantageous in collaborating and interacting. It gave them the opportunity to create content, and communicate via social media and web 2.0 tools. Further, it highlighted that lack of institutional support and constant connectivity to frustration among the students as they failed to use various opportunities of digital technology. These findings were more less similar to that of Papastergiou (2009) who assessed the extent to which a computer game can motivate high school students to learn the computer memory concepts designed as per the Greek computer science curriculum. The results were compared to the similar application, which is lacking the gaming aspect. The earning objectives and the content was same in both the cases and the results were used to measure the learning effectiveness using the digital technology. Upon collecting the students, feedback using the questionnaire showed that the gaming approach was more effective in learning the concepts than the non-gaming approach. Although the difference in the computer memory knowledge before and after the intervention did not differ significantly, the gaming approach was motivational for both girls and boys. The author concluded that digital game based learning could be exploited to create motivational and effective learning environment. However, students did not exploit range of opportunities provided by the digital technology for learning purpose.
Strachan and Aljabali, (2016) investigated 250 higher education students to asses their use of digital technology to support learning. The results found that the students spend great time on digital technology. They use range of technologies with laptops and mobiles being the main devices. It partly contradicts the findings of Lai and Hong (2015). Other than that variety of softwares are used such as youtube, and websites. The study showed that students use digital technology more on off campus that on campus. They tend to exploit the opportunity of collaborative learning from the digital technology. This results coincided with Gikas and Grant (2013). It includes shared learning, seeking help to queries, and extract information. The extent to which the student exploits the opportunities of this system is not very high and is informal in nature. They use it as much as it meets their basic needs. They were found to face challenges in terms of retrieving accurate information from the web source and other technical issues occasionally. The disadvantage includes failing to grab correct concepts as it was possible through traditional learning. Similarly, O’Callaghan et al. (2017) reviewed that higher education students tend to exploit digital released technology for recording the lectures of the teachers that fosters quick learning. These recordings are online as video podcasts, lecture capture, and Lectopia. Other students too can use these recordings for their academic purpose and is found to be significant in improving learning outcomes. Students prefer these approach as it makes their learning long lasting. However, Lai and Hong (2015) and Gikas and Grant (2013) did not cover these aspects.
It can be concluded from the literature review that there is an increase in the extent to which higher education students use digital technology to support their learning. Compared to traditional mode of learning, more number of students prefer to learn via youtube, social media and e-mails. They use of range of opportunities such as distant learning, online examinations, lecture recording and exchange or purchase the study materials. More number of students are exploiting digital devices to learn in less time and prepare projects using readymade online resources. These help them save huge time which they invest in other academic and non-academic activities. It is evident from the fact that lack of inaccessibility to digital technology leads to frustration among students. However, some students exploited digital technology for motivation in learning instead of exploiting learning opportunities. Some students could not exploit range of opportunities due to cost, familiarity and immediacy. Some universities have still not implemented digital technology in the campus and students from low socioeconomic background fail to exploit such technology for various opportunities. On the other hand there are some students who complain technological issues such as loss of data and requirement of formatting or hacking by unknown people as barrier to exploit academic opportunities. These studies did not show that higher education students are exploiting digital technologies for making innovative contributions in academics. However, there are more number of positives than negative implications. Overall, in comparison to decade ago there is increase in extent of higher education exploiting the opportunities provided by digital technology in learning.
Bullen, M., Morgan, T. & Qayyum, A. 2011, "Digital Learners in Higher Education: Generation is Not the Issue", Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology / La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 1.
Gikas, J. and Grant, M.M., 2013. Mobile computing devices in higher education: Student perspectives on learning with cellphones, smartphones & social media. The Internet and Higher Education, 19, pp.18-26.
Lai, K.W. and Hong, K.S., 2015. Technology use and learning characteristics of students in higher education: Do generational differences exist?. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(4), pp.725-738.
O’Callaghan, F.V., Neumann, D.L., Jones, L. and Creed, P.A., 2017. The use of lecture recordings in higher education: A review of institutional, student, and lecturer issues. Education and Information Technologies, 22(1), pp.399-415.
Papastergiou, M., 2009. Digital game-based learning in high school computer science education: Impact on educational effectiveness and student motivation. Computers & Education, 52(1), pp.1-12.
Strachan, R. and Aljabali, S., 2016. How are International Students using Technology to Support their Learning?.
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