Students' Learning Experiences in the Digital Age
This paper addresses the issue of what students at university value in relation to pedagogy in the 21st Century. Modern students live in a technological age spending much of their leisure time immersed in technology; they are what Prensky (2001a) calls Digital Natives. Proponents of this view (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005) argue that this prolonged exposure to technology influences student values in terms of their study experiences. This longitudinal study investigates student experiences of traditional lecture based delivery modes and compares it to digital delivery modes utilising computer games. Over the course of a three year period the mode of delivery was transformed from wholly traditional in the first year to fully digital in the third year while the content and assessment were kept constant. Student experiences were rated using an Experience Sampling Method (Hektner, Schmidt & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007) designed to capture real time experience and measure feelings of flow (a term coined by Csikszentmihalyi to indicate optimal experience). Results indicate that students who experienced the digital mode were happier and more involved. Also, they experienced higher concentration levels and perceived sessions as more challenging. However, they found learning less sociable and more confusing. Flow characteristics revealed boredom for students in the traditional setting but anxiety and flow in the digital setting. These results suggest that by aligning teaching mode with the digital culture, student learning experiences can be improved. However, there are some negative aspects that need to be addressed and investigated further.