Understanding How Postsecondary Learners Use Digital Technologies and the Implications for Higher Education

New and emerging technologies are having a profound impact on how we communicate, interact, access and use information. They are affecting business, entertainment and social activity. Commentators and futurists suggest there are profound implications for education as well. They argue that because this “Net Generation” of learners is so immersed in a networked world of digital technology, they behave differently, have different social characteristics, different ways of using and making sense of information, different ways of learning, and different expectations about life and learning. But is this an accurate portrayal of our students? The answer to this question has potentially significant and costly implications for how we teach and how we use learning technologies.

This international research project is investigating how postsecondary learners in different institutional contexts and cultures think about technology and how they use it in their social and educational lives. We will examine the issue in depth to gain an understanding of what the growing use of the new digital technologies means for teaching and learning in higher education.