Learners and learning in the twenty‐first century: what do we know about students' attitudes towards and experiences of information and communication technologies that will help us design courses?
This article reports on issues relevant for teachers and instructional designers anticipating using information and communication technologies (ICTs) in higher education, particularly those wishing to adopt a flexible learning approach aimed at improving the quality of the student experience. The data that are reported on span more than five years, and have been gathered from a range of large quantitative postal surveys and smaller qualitative surveys, with total respondents numbering around 80,000. The large-scale surveys cover annual course reviews, computer access, students' use of media, access to media technologies and ICT access and use. The smaller qualitative studies include students' use of CD-ROMs and online tuition. This article describes the students' backgrounds and how this can affect their studies. It discusses students' access to media technologies and what their perceptions of media are in the context of independent learning. The conclusion is that, although ICTs can enable new forms of teaching and learning to take place, they cannot ensure that effective and appropriate learning outcomes are achieved. It is not technologies, but educational purposes and pedagogy, that must provide the lead, with students understanding not only how to work with ICTs, but why it is of benefit for them to do so. Knowing about students' use of media as well as their attitudes and experiences can help teachers and instructional designers develop better courses.
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