What works and why? Student perceptions of 'useful' digital technology in university teaching and learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


Digital technologies are now an integral aspect of the university student experience. As such, academic research has understandably focused on the potential of various digital technologies to enable, extend and even enhance student learning. This paper offers an alternate perspective on these issues by exploring students actual experiences of digital technology during their academic studies - highlighting the aspects of digital technology use that students themselves see as particularly helpful and/or useful. Drawing on a survey of 1658 undergraduate students, the paper identifies 11 distinct digital benefits - ranging from flexibilities of time and place, ease of organizing and managing study tasks through to the ability to replay and revisit teaching materials, and learn in more visual forms. While these data confirm digital technologies as central to the ways in which students experience their studies, they also suggest that digital technologies are not transforming the nature of university teaching and learning. As such, university educators perhaps need to temper enthusiasms for what might be achieved through technology-enabled learning and develop better understandings of the realities of students encounters with digital technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1567-1579
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • student experience
  • technology
  • internet
  • Undergraduates
  • student conceptions

Cite this