Student uses of technology in learning: two lenses

Margot Mcneill*, Ming Ming Diao, Maree Gosper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose In their 2007 article, “Miranda in the brave new world: learning in a Web 2.0 millennium”, Barnes and Tynan tell the story of an imaginary British student who uses technology seamlessly to stay connected almost 24×7 with friends, peers and teachers in a global learning environment. Whether she is representative of the majority of university students is a topic of debate in the literature. This paper aims to explore how students use technologies in their everyday lives, whether on or offcampus, to support their learning. Design/methodology/approach There were two phases of the study; a photo ethnography to enable a detailed exploration of ten students' technology uses and then a universitywide survey in which 1,104 student responses were gathered. Findings The findings of both phases of the study suggest that students' use of technologies for their learning and in other facets of their lives is largely conservative, with a predominance of familiar and easytouse tools such as email, text and mobile phone. For their learning, their preference is for tools to provide access, efficiency and connectedness. Originality/value This paper contributes to the development of a better understanding of student issues in the context of their overall IT experience at the university, suggesting a more holistic approach to designing technology infrastructure. There are also insights into the power of mixed methodologies in research, with significant parallels between the qualitative and quantitative results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalInteractive Technology and Smart Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2011


  • Education
  • Ethnography
  • Information technology
  • Learning
  • Students


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