In phase one, students focused their opinions on technology used in the classroom and/or provided by LSE. Building on the work started in 2016, phase two has engaged with a further 440 students across the LSE community and aims to look more closely at how students use specific pieces of technology in their personal, educational and working lives.
One of the insights from Stage 1 was that students despite having devices in front of them never mentioned them when asked about technology preferring to focus on the technology we use in the classroom. Stage 2 is looking at how they use what we provide (Moodle, Lecture Capture, Assessment) and how they use what they bring. We want to look at the ‘myths’ around using technology in lectures and build a picture of what modern learning with technology looks like at the LSE. This is a really exciting project directly aligned to hearing what the students have to tell us, learning from them and engaging them in the co-production of policy.
Continuing the data collection methods used in project one, this second phase collected information from a further 440 students across all academic departments: 352 responses to an online survey, one workshop of 6 students and face-to-face interviews with 82 students. Interviews were 5-8 minutes in length and were semi-structured to encourage a greater depth of insight. The audio and visual vignettes were then used to develop a story about the role of technology across all aspects of an LSE student’s life.
We sought to understand the following: which pieces of technology do students use for academic or personal use, why and when do students choose to use these applications, how confident do they feel about using technology and what are their opinions on the future of technology – both at LSE and in their personal and professional lives. The results have been divided into five categories: presence and prevalence of devices, apps and software; digital identity; digital wellbeing and student mental health; digital literacy; student suggestions.
- Whilst starting with the broad question ‘how do students use technology’, we largely received tacit answers based on emotion: from wellbeing to matters of identity. Students wanted to share their option on technology and how it makes them feel.
- Sociality (social interactions, building relationships, forming one’s identity) underpins the findings in this project. How students use – or seek to use – technology links to its potential for enhancing productivity and increasing connectivity to the wider world. For many, social networking may foster a sense of belonging and technology can facilitate greater social engagement by continuing conversations outside of the classroom.
- Students are active users of social networking sites. Snapchat and Instagram is widely used among undergraduate students and is more popular than Twitter.
- Students gave impassionate responses when asked about physical technology or even basic social media (Facebook for events or Messenger, or WhatsApp) but there was a more critical and passionate response to social media channels that touched upon matters of identity presentation.
- Students value technology that is easy to use, accessible across devices, widely used among peers, efficient and facilitates instant communication and connectivity.
- Students raised several concerns about the impact of technology and social media on a person’s mental health: from its impact on levels of concentration to its impact on social interactions.
- WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Google’s group-editing tools are overwhelmingly the most popular forms of communication and data sharing in a student’s learning journey. These platforms are heavily used for group work.
- Students did not indicate a desire to replace face-to-face interaction with virtual learning. They still value LSE’s built resources and would prefer to seek help from a teacher during office hours if they have a more in-depth question about their academic work. Technology is often seen as an enabler for face-to-face communication and blended learning.
- There is diversity in student preferences for learning styles (from handwritten lecture notes to those taken on a laptop).
- Our research findings have shown a community of learners at LSE who are navigating through a world which is becoming more integrated. As such, there are many opportunities, and there is great potential, to improve or compliment teaching and learning through the use of technology.
- Ultimately, students have evidenced a willingness to engage with the future of technology policy at LSE. This emphasises the importance of continued discussion across the LSE learning community as we continue into the new academic year.