Understanding How Students Interact With Technology For Knowledge-Sharing: The Emergence of a New ‘Social' Divide in France

Understanding How Students Interact With Technology For Knowledge-Sharing: The Emergence of a New ‘Social' Divide in France

Jessica Lichy, Maher Kachour
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/IJTHI.2016010106
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The context of this enquiry is the rapid evolution of Internet technology. The aim is to explore the extent to which young adults exchange information and share knowledge within the sphere of French higher education, public and private. The enquiry uses a two-phase approach: survey methodology followed by depth interviews to examine technology usage and preferences in the learning process - from a student perspective. An analysis of the data provides an insight into the culture of Internet usage in France; a widening chasm between students and tutors in the use of technology within communities of learners. The study focuses on the French higher education system; more research would be needed to compare cross-culturally. It is nevertheless instructive for tutors and academic managers within higher education to be aware of the findings to rethink the role of technology in learning and knowledge-sharing. This enquiry contributes to the body of literature on the evolution of Internet user behaviour and our understanding of contemporary trends.
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Rapid developments in information and communication technologies (ICT) over the last decade have resulted in a continually increasing use of technological devices for teaching and learning (Hyman, 2012). Tutors are coping with ‘disruptive change’ on a level that they have never experienced, in an attempt to master new approaches for transmitting knowledge such as the ‘flipped classroom’ where students prepare course materials prior to the class in order to use class time for interacting and applying the new knowledge (Green, 2015). Today’s students live in a totally connected world in which personal messages are spontaneously broadcast to vast numbers of viewers through Chat Apps, Instant Messaging, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media. The proliferation of these technological devices in the classroom raises the ethical issue of how much the trend is being driven by the technology industry’s needs, rather than the students’ needs (Leonard, 2013). Furthermore, while students are comfortable divulging personal information online among peers, they are aware of the commercial value of their data and increasingly reticent about using geo-localisation apps (Lévy, Lancrey-Javal and Rey, 2014). This discernment seems to suggest that young Internet users are adept at compartmentalising digital tools.

Many tutors regard social media as an informal channel of communication whose role in higher education has yet to be defined (Draskovic, Caic and Kustrak, 2013). The dynamic evolution of ICT calls into question the extent to which technology could and should be integrated into the pedagogical approach today. Whether tutors have a preference for traditional or innovative pedagogy, they still need to be aware of the changing technology trends and user preferences, since the way in which individuals interact with technology is a constantly evolving process and tutors have a responsibility to understand how students engage (or not) with technology for learning and sharing knowledge.

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