Motivations and perceived usefulness of technology in higher education
This study investigates student experiences with learning and teaching technologies using data obtained through an online survey of 553 students. The following specific questions are addressed in the study. What type of learning and teaching technologies do students use for their study and how often do students use these technologies in a learning week? Do students find these technologies useful or do they use them by compulsion? What is the perceived usefulness that students attach to these technologies? Given the increased number of students with part-time jobs, does technology play any role in enhancing student engagement with their studies? The data obtained is used to describe technology use patterns. Student perceived benefits of learning and teaching technology are discussed along with the perceived constraints in technology use. Likert scale type questions were asked about a wide range of technologies including those used to enhance face to face contact and those used in flexible learning. The results show that students have a preference for technologies that enhance flexible learning such as podcasting, web based activities and online discussions. A large number of students also indicated that PowerPoint slides were useful but their effect was mitigated by improper use and ill designed slides. The results show that the majority of students find that technology enhances their learning experience but are constrained by lack of training for specific technologies, poorly designed virtual learning environments and ill equipped staff. Contrary to general belief (re Oblinger's 'Net generation' or Prensky's 'digital natives'), students have a strong affinity for face to face learning and find that the text book is still the primary source of learning; technology is seen as a way of enhancing learning rather than the main learning vehicle itself. Overreliance on technology is identified as one of the main problems in learning with technology. The results also suggest that flexible learning technologies play an important role in study engagement for students who work longer than 10 hours a week.