Profiling University Students’ Use of Technology: Where is the Net Generation Divide?

By Chris Jones and Anesa Hosein.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper presents work from a longitudinal study on how first year students from the Net Generation use ICT tools. Using factor analysis, the research found that students can be categorized into clusters based on whether they were using web 2.0 tools (web interactive), audio and video editing tools (technical-oriented), social networking tools (social interactive), gaming consoles (game-oriented) and online resources or word processing/presentation software tools (work-oriented).Young students within the Net Generation were highly social interactive whilst distance-learning students were less social interactive. International students were mainly found to be web-interactive with a growing social interaction over the course of their first year. The research supports the argument that there is no single Net Generation with common characteristics. It suggests that age is the most significant variable with gender, mode of study and the national origin of students all playing a role in patterning students’ engagement with new technologies.

Keywords: Net Generation, Digital Natives, Millenials, Generation Y, Student Experience

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.43-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 816.523KB).

Dr. Chris Jones

Reader, Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Dr. Christopher R. Jones is a Reader in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. He teaches on the Masters programme and coordinates a strand of the Doctorate in Education programme (EdD). His research focuses on the utilization of the metaphor of networks to the understanding of learning in tertiary education. Chris is the principal investigator for a UK Funding Council funded project “The Net Generation encountering e-learning at university” until December 2009. He was previously a co-leader of the European Union funded Kaleidoscope Research Team “Conditions for productive networked learning environments”. Chris has published over 50 refereed journal articles, book chapters and refereed conference papers connected to his research. He is the joint editor of two books - Networked Learning: Perspectives and Issues published by Springer (2002) and Analysing Networked Learning Practices in Higher Education and Continuing Professional Development. Sense Publishers, BV.(2009)

Dr. Anesa Hosein

Research Assistant, Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Anesa is currently the Research Assistant on the Net Generation: Encountering e-Learning at University where she is conducting the quantitative analysis on the surveys on frequency of ICT for first year students. She is originally from Trinidad but have conducted research/ teaching in Guyana, Trinidad and the UK. Previous research has been in industrial engineering particularly decision support systems and performance measurements. She is currently interested in how students attempt to understand difficult topics such as mathematics in higher education when using software. Recently, she developed and piloted a method for observing and collecting data from students’ using software via the internet called remote observation.


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