Study and Non-Study Related Technologies use of Flemish Students in Higher Education

Study and Non-Study Related Technologies use of Flemish Students in Higher Education

Steven Bruneel, Jan Elen, Kurt De Wit, Jef C. Verhoeven
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2919-6.ch005
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“Living technologies”, such as social networking sites and mobile phones are, nowadays, the subject of educational research. In this chapter we attempt to shed light on the relationship between the reasons for the use of living technologies and learning technologies from students’ perspectives. In this exploratory research project, 15 students were interviewed several times throughout the academic year and 143 students, from various bachelor programs at a Flemish university (Flanders/Belgium) completed an online survey. Results demonstrate that these students make a clear distinction with regard to the frequency and reasons for use of living technologies and learning technologies, with these students rarely use living technologies (for instance, Facebook or mobile phones) for educational purposes. Results are explained in terms of privacy and the reluctance to use particular applications for several non-educational reasons. We end with some possible suggestions for follow-up research.
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For several years, many researchers have conducted empirical research with respect to information and communication technologies (ICT) and higher education (e.g. Kennedy, Judd, Churchward, Gray & Krause, 2008b; Lorenzo, Oblinger, & Dziuban, 2006). However, few researchers have investigated what higher education students actually do when they are staring at their screens. In our research, we wished to shed light on students’ use and meanings of study-related use of ICT. We asked the students how much time they spent using ICT applications and for what reasons. More precisely, we wanted to unravel the relationship between study and non-study related ICT use from students’ perspectives. Therefore, the following central research question was developed: “How do living technologies relate to learning technologies concerning frequency, time and educational use from students’ perspectives?”

In order to answer the central research question, we begin from our theoretical background on the complex relationship between ICT and education, by outlining some terms and well-known research outcomes. Next, we look more in depth at the popularity of so-called “living technologies”. In our research, only four kinds of living technologies were studied (namely computers, mobile phones, video games, and mp3 players). This is followed by a summary of the rise of learning technologies, with virtual learning environments (VLEs) as one of the most popular types of educational application. Through the literature review, we show whether or not living technologies are embedded in higher education. We end our theoretical framework by showing to what extent students and the faculty are inclined to use living technologies in their educational activities. The section on methodology is then followed by the results obtained from the research. These data are addressed in the same way as our theoretical background: first we outline the results concerning the rate and use of living technologies, followed by a discussion of students’ use of learning technologies. Next, we show whether or not living technologies are embedded in higher education from the students’ point of view. Finally, we conclude with a reflection on the research outcomes, in order to attempt to explain some phenomena observed, and to provide suggestions for follow-up research.

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