Creat ive Educati on
2014. Vo l.5, No.2, 104-113
Published Online February 2014 in SciRes ( ht tp://dx.d 17
The Pedagogical Implications of Implementing New Technologies
to Enhance Student Engagement and Learni ng Outcomes
Alison Sammel, Ka tie Weir, Christopher Klopper
School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia
Received Septem ber 20 th, 201 3; revi sed Octobe r 20th, 2013; ac cepted October 2 7th, 2013
Copyrigh t © 2014 Alison Sammel et a l. This is an op en ac cess a rticle d istri but ed under the C reative C ommons
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This paper reports the findings of research conducted by three teacher educators about the effects on
teac hing and lear ning from imp lementing a variety of di gital tec hnologies i n their undergr aduate c ourses.
The aim of t his study was to assess t he degree to whic h certai n universit y sup ported digital tec hnologies
assi sted in pr omoti ng student e ngagement a nd part icip ation in col laborati ve learning. The data are based
on the s emester long exper iences o f the thr ee lectur ers a nd their s tudents . From this data emer ged an ho-
listic picture tha t highli ghts which of the i mp lemented digit al technologi es constrains or enables parti cular
pedagogical aspects such as communication of course requirements; student engagement, meaningful
formative feedback; and deep connections between course elements. This picture assisted the authors in
generating a matrix f or implementing certai n digital technologies that cater f or diverse l earning styles, and
diversely experienc e an i nteres t in us ing tec hnolo gy. The t heoreti ca l framewor k for buildi ng the mat rix is
based on Collins, Brown and Newman’s (1990) Cognitive Apprenticeship Model. It is also underpinned
by the sugges tions tha t as teacherswe too often over look whet her or not our st udents ha ve the requi sit e
skills to engage with technologies because of tacit assumptions about how this generation of students
wants to learn. Likewise, the same can be said of those who provide professional development sessions
for staff who are learning how to use new technologies and who often appear to make similar assump-
Key words: Digital Technologies; Online Education; Pre-Servic e Teacher E ducation
Walking into any university course in Australia, or indeed
around the world, you will find students who have different
reasons for attending, different levels of motivation, different
attitudes and expectations towards their learning, and different
responses to technology. Understanding these differences not
only allows teaching staff to better cater to the diverse learning
needs of their students, but can also increase student engage-
ment, satisfaction and retention (Felder & Brent, 2005). Sey-
mour and Hewitt (1997) showed that many of the students who
drop out of university courses or programs do so not because
they are th e weaker stud ents, but because they are n ot engaged
with their learning and feel dissatisfaction with their education-
al instruction. To advance the reputation of the university, and
to increase student retention, efforts to increase student en-
gagement with learning materials and improving student satis-
faction with courses have been an important goal within uni-
versities for some time (Moosmayer & Siems, 2012). By re-
flecting on university courses that students find successful,
patterns endorsed by universities emerge. Patterns such as
creating supportive places where students can easily and effec-
tively interact with one another, the university teaching staff
and the course materials. In these successful courses, high le-
vels of student engagement are achieved. Students who are
engaged per ceive that they learn more, and become more satis-
fied with the learning experience (Arbaugh, 2008; Boston et al.,
2009; Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Garrison & Cleveland-Innes,
2005; Richardson & Swan, 2003; Rubin et al., 2013; Swan,
2002). Research has found strong links between successful
courses, effective use of technology and student achievement
and contentment (Liaw, 2008; Levy, 2008). Specifically, tech-
nology used to support university courses can directly affect
student satisfaction and success through promoting ease of
interaction and understanding of course materials, increase
facilitation between students and faculty, improve feedback,
and encourage interactive and independent learning (Selim,
2007). For this reason, this study will examine how three aca-
demic staff members and their students assess certain digital
technologies in the promotion of student engagement, and staff
and student satisfaction.
Theoretica l Back grou nd : Task-Technology Fit
To gain a greater understanding of the factors that influence
technology use, student engagement, and staff and student sa-
tisfaction with technology, it is helpful to explore task-tech-
nology fit theory. Goodhue and Thompson (1995) suggest that
in order to have a success outcome with technology usage, the
users need to distinguish the goals for task and the fit between
the task and the technology. The basic argument of this theory
is that for a technology to have a positive impact on outcomes
and satisfaction, the technology must fit with the tasks it is
supposed to support, and the understandings and needs of those
who use it (Rubin et al., 2013). The better the task–technology
fit, the more it is anticipated that there will be positive conse-
quences from using the technology. In the context of using
various digital technologies within the three university courses
being investigated, the academic staff hoped the anticipated
consequences included facilitating a clearer understanding of
course objectives and assessment items, and promoting a dee-
per, more engaging and satisfying learning experience. As such,
task-technology fit refers to the ability of the various digital
technologies to support students in the range of learning activi-
ties they engage in, whilst accommodating the variety of stu-
dent abilities. These activities include promoting ease and
comfort communicating with other students and the academic
staff, accessing and promoting a deeper understanding of
learning materials and encouraging interaction and discussions
in lectures and tutorials. McGill & Klobas (2009) advocate that
by increasing awareness and understanding of the relationship
between the technology and the needs and goals of its user(s),
task-technology fit will have a positive influence on satisfac-
This theory suggests that for a digital technology to achieve a
certain mission, in this case increase student engagement, the
technology must first meet the needs of the user. Therefore, the
needs and understandings of the user must be explored. This
includes attitude and beliefs towards technology use, social
norms around the use of technology, prior comfort with tech-
nology use, experiences with other form of technology, and any
facilitating conditions. Further, technology-task fit also neces-
sitates that there is an understanding of functionality and cha-
racteristics of the technology. By addressing both the needs and
goals of the users, and the features of the technology, this study
explores the factors that influence technology-task fit such as
the perceived usefulness of the technology, communication
quality and changes in understanding knowledge, as well as
staff and student engagement, self-efficacy, computer literacy
and situational understandings. All these factors have been
shown to influence both the use of technology and their per-
formance impacts.
Research Design and Methodology
Design-based research (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992) is an
emerging paradigm for the study of learning in contexts
through the systematic design and study of instructional strate-
gies and tools. The Design-Based Research Collective (2003)
argues th at design-based research can assi st in the creati on and
extension of knowledge “about developing, enacting, and sus-
taining innovative learning environments” (p. 5). There is no
single design-based research method, but rather an explicit
overarching concern for using methods that link processes of
enactment to outcomes. This overarching concern is seen to
have the po ten tial to gen erate kn owledg e th at direct ly appl ies t o
educational practice. “The value of attending to context is not
simple that it produces a better understanding of an intervention,
but also that it can lead to improved theoretical accounts of
teachin g and lear ning” (Th e Desi gn-B ased R esearch Col lecti ve,
2003: p. 7). This approach in which the context and interven-
tion are problematized sets this research method apart from
traditional evaluation where the intervention is evaluated
against a set of pre-determined standards (Worthenm, Sanders,
& Fitzpatrick, 1996). The intention of design-based research in
educational settings is to generate models of successful innova-
tion rather than particular artifacts or programs (Brown &
Cam pione , 19 96) .
The Procedure
The study was conducted in Semester one, 2012 at a large
multi-campus university in Queensland. Three academic staff
members teaching Science, Assessment and Communication
within a School of Education, reflected on the aim, goals and
practices of their instruction to understand what they would like
to improve upon. Increasing student engagement in lectures,
within the online course community and with the course con-
tent emerged as the main theme. The three academics worked
with their blended learning support team to investigate the dif-
ferent university supported digital technologies that would
promote their agenda. Each academic choose a few digital
technologies to learn and implement in their Semester one
course. During and after the implementation semester, each of
the academics wrote a case study explaining their experiences
and findings. Portions of these case studies are presented in the
data secti on.
There were a 204 students enrolled in the first year commu-
nication course, 151 in the third year science course and 160
students in the forth year assessment course. This gave a total
of 515 students who were asked to participate in this study. The
students were asked to complete an online survey at the start of
semester one. An academic who was not teaching into that
specific course gave each cohort of students instructions about
how to complete the survey and its importance. Students were
told that it was voluntary and anonymous. The online survey
asked questions about students’ previous experience with tech-
nologies in “learning” (etc. classrooms, lectures, tutorials) situ-
ations. They were also asked questions about their expectation
of face-to-face learning and online means of learning, their
expectations of technology and how they prefer to learn.
Twe nty-seven students participated in the online survey; the
result s are presented in the data section.
To further explore student how the students engaged with the
digital technologies offered in their courses, three focus group
interviews were conducted. Each group had around 25 - 30
participating students. The students were asked open-ended
questions about the what digital technologies they used in their
course; which ones they preferred and why; their motivations,
expectatio ns an d experi ences using t he techno logy; whet her th e
technology improved their learning outcomes; whether it en-
gaged th em; chal lenges and issu ed encountered an d if they had
any specific feedback about the digital technologies utilized in
their course. These focus group interviews were taped and then
transcribed. The results of these interviews are highlighted in
the data section.
Exploring the Task and the Technology: Three
Case Studies
The Staff Experience
Each staff member on the research team produced a case
study that recorded their experience with implementing new
digital technologies with a goal to enhance student engagement
and learning in their respective courses. These are presented
below with the associated di scipline iden tified in bracket s . Each
case stud y was an alysed for any recurri ng or significan t themes
that were categorised under two subheadings: “Professional
Development” (improving their technological skill level) and
“Course Implementation” (the outcomes of implementing digi-
tal technologies in their respective courses). The findings from
these analyses are summarised under these same headings in
the right hand column of the Data Summary Table at the end of
this section.
Staff Case Studies
1) Lecturer 1 (Assessing Primary Students’ Learning)
This particular course was chosen to be put under the spot-
light of th is study becau se of the low scores and negati ve feed-
back in the student experience survey data the previous year.
This situation was seen as an opportunity to implement new
technologies for enhancing the delivery of the curriculum and
for improving communication with students with a goal of en-
hancin g the qu ality of their learni ng exper ience. Apart from the
major aspects of the course that were revised such as the as-
sessment items, the technologies I decided to implement this
semester included the following: an online assessment submis-
sion process (Safe Assign) for greater efficiency and for its
capacity to provide better feedback; Lecture Capture to record
the lectures that focused on the two assessment tasks; Personal
Lecture Capture (Echo360) to ensure consistent delivery of key
course mes sages; and a co llabor ative onli ne classroo m (Wimba)
to enhance communication. Other digital technologies in place
such as the course website and the online discussion board were
also revamped to improve curriculum delivery and course
Once I had selected these new digital technologies I under-
took professional development provided by our Technology
Advisor. I also undertook further learning about the technolo-
gies I was already familiar with e.g., Safe Assign and the Dis-
cussion Board where my learning focused on improving their
functionality. Wimba was the technology I was least familiar
with after experiencing immense frustration trying to access
and utilise a Wimba classroom successfully from off-campus I
rejected this technology out of fear that students would expe-
rience the same access and communication issues. I was simi-
larly unfamiliar with Personal Lecture Capture (Echo360) and
this turned out to be another option I rejected because of time
constraints and the lack of resources for preparing quality re-
cordings, both technical and human.
I utilized Lecture Capture selectively to record the lecture
content directly related to the assessment tasks. Student atten-
dance dwindled to less than half the enrolled number by the
final lecture. The tracking dat a from the university’s blackbo ard
site in dicate that 80 % of students accessed Lecture Cap ture.
Using Safe Assign for assignment submission created some
unforeseen challenges for online marking. One of the reasons
this technology was implemented was for its plagiarism analyt-
ics as the assessment task is recycled each year. Safe Assign
allows only one file to be submitted which created issues for
students who had saved their task in different formats and in
different documents (despite explicit instructions requesting
their submission as one Word document). For the course teach-
ing staff this method of providing feedback to students “in situ
using the Track Changesfunction was preferred over tradi-
tional handwritten comments on paper-based assignments but if
students saved their files in other formats they were prevented
from providing this sort of targeted and feedback on their work.
How stud ents named their files was pro blematic and it was ti me
consuming to remediate this by re-naming each file. The
download function in Safe Assign did not work off-campus,
which was another glitch in the system especially when the
sessional staff were already under confident with using this
online assessment system. More problems emerged when as-
signments were returned, as it was not clear to students how to
access their marked work. None of these sorts of pragmatic
issues were addressed in the PD sessions I attended but now I
am aware o f them they can be ea sily remediated with approp ri-
ate and explicit instruction for staff and students.
The Discussion Board was utilised more around the due
dates for ass essment and the focus of the discussions was pure-
ly on details regarding the asses sment tasks.
2) Lecturer 2 (Primary Science Educat ion)
The course I chose to investigate was a primary science
course. My goal was to implement a range of digital technolo-
gies that I had not used before and to investigate what I found
to be practical and useful, and to explore how the students re-
sponded to each of them. This course was the second core
science course the Bachelor of Education (Primary) students
needed to take. It runs in the first semester of their third of four
years. There were 151 students ranging in age from school
leavers to mature age students. Attendance at the lectures was
nearly 100% at the start but on average became around 70% of
the student cohort.
The first digital technology initiative I implemented was
Echo360 which I used to record detailed explanations of the
assessment tasks. I went through both the assessment outline
and the corresponding marking rubric. I wanted to ensure that
my students had a consistent and clear message around their
assessment items. Each recording was around 11 minutes long
and consisted of specific details and helpful tips and advice. I
used prior student examples displayed on the computer screen
to address major aspects of the assessment task. The students
commented that they appreciated this information; especially
the verbal explanations using prior students work to demon-
strate my point. They said this assisted them in undertaking the
assessment task. However, in response to further questioning,
the majority of students tended to focus on the practical exam-
ples provided rather than also seeking to understanding how
their work would be evaluated using the rubric. This lead to
students forgetting to do certain small tasks, like cor rectly refe-
rencing. The student tended to not access the assessment infor-
mation at the start of the course but when i t was needed . There
were quite a few students who came to me for assessment ad-
vice and when asked if they had listened to the specific
Echo360 recordings under assessment at the Learning at Grif-
fith site, said they had forgotten about it. These were students
who did attend the lectures but usually arrived late, hence
missing the verbal reminder to access these recordings, howev-
er a reminder was usually written on the white board in the
lectures. I would have liked the tutors to have used and pro-
moted using the Echo360 recordings more. This could have
been done by listening to it themselves or directing students to
listen to it when they had assessment questions, or displaying it
on the whiteboard when answering specific questions. Some of
the four tutors gave assessment information that was different
to what was in my recordings, leading to confusion amongst the
students. As this was a new tool to this course, I found tutors
and students were not in the habit of listening to the assessment
recording, and so did not use it as the supportive tool that it was
intended to be.
Lecture Capture was also implemented in this course to
record each of my nine, 2-hour lectures which were then up-
loaded into the relevant weekly folder on the course Blackboard
site within 24 hours of each lect ur e. An an no uncement was also
circulat ed to the students when this lecture material was availa-
ble. The students could access the lecture content through Lec-
ture Capture whenever they chose to. Statistical tracking
showed the majority of students listened to all nine recordings,
but not within a week of the given lecture, rather around the
week before their end of the course exam. When asked, the
students who regularly attended lectures explained that it was
only if they had missed the lecture or did not understand a point,
would they listen to the recorded 2-hour lecture within a week
of the lect ure. The majorit y said that this tool was an important
part of their exam study process as they would re-listen to spe-
cific lectures that they found the content more difficult to study.
Rarely did the students listen to all recorded lectures, but nearly
each student explained they would listen to 2 or more record-
ings out of the nine. There was no specific pattern to their re-
listening, however, the chemistry and physics lectures were
mostly replayed.
The formal university course and teaching evaluations al-
lowed only for comments arou nd the Lecture C apture asp ect of
the course. It showed there was a mixed reaction to this tool.
When asked i f the reco rd ed lectu res assi sted th eir l earn in g, on a
scale of low, medium, high and neutral, 30% of the student
responded with the high, while 40% replied with a medium
response and the final 30% identified as “neutral ”. There were
no written comments relating to any of the digital technology
implementations. These mixed reviews may have been due to
the fact that students could not specifically skip to certain
points in the recording and did not want to re-listen to the
whole of the 2-hour lecture. New Lecture Capture programs
now allow for movement to specific places in the recording,
and statistical tracking in my more recent courses have shown
students are accessing Lecture Capture more frequently.
Another reason for the mixed reviews may involve my interac-
tive lecturing method, which involves many student-centered
activities that Lecture Capture cannot fully record. The visual
and sound quality for these student based experiments and ac-
tivities would not have been at the same high level as when I
was talkin g to th e specific Po werP oi nt images on the screen . To
this end, the Lecture Capture capabilities only really support a
chalk and talk” style of lecture, and not the process of interac-
tive demonstrations, activities or discussions that allow for the
joint development of knowledge. To this end, Lecture Capture
does not translate well for my lectures. However, students do
have the po tential to acces s what infor mation is r ecorded at any
The third digital technology initiative I implemented was
JPoll. JPoll supported my desire for more interactive pedagogy
as it enables students to anonymously articulate their prior
knowledge o f a scien ce to p ic and displ ays the co llect ive resu lts .
These results initiate discussions around science content and
pedagogical strategies related to teaching that science topic. I
used this technology to replace a more general PowerPoint
discussion of key alternative conceptions primary aged students
have about science topics. JPoll allowed me to interactively
investigated science misconceptions. To assist students’ use of
the tool I developed a slide to explain what JPoll was, how to
connect to the university’s wireless Internet, and then connect
to the JPoll site. Any student with a smart phone or mobile
computer device could access JPoll. Those students who did
not have a computer or a smart phone completed the task in
pairs or groups with students who did have this technology
(about 50% of students). This organisation process involved
developing 15 true or false questions before the lecture. The
answers the students provided to the 15 questions were ano-
nymous, thus no individual student answer could be identified.
Once answers are entered into a mobile device, the statistical
information instantaneously displays on the front screen. This
instant, visual statistical information dramatically highlights
any science inconsistencies student have without revealing
individual responses. This resulted increased engagement,
promoting deeper discussions compared with previous years. I
displayed the information in a bar graph of either true or false,
so everyone could quickly see what percentage of the students
thought the question to be either true or false. From this infor-
mation a large group discussion was started. When asked about
the experience of using this technology to promote engagement
and lear nin g, th e stud ent s were ful l o f praise for ever y aspect o f
this process. No one complained that it was not individually
accessible, as they did not have the smart device available to
them personally. I assumed this would be more of a problem. I
believe JPoll worked well, however instead of only having
access to questions formulated before the lecture, it would be
advantageous to be able to type in questions during the lecture.
Being limited to only using re-registered questions I found a bit
restrict ive for my preferred ped agogical st yle.
Implementing these three learning technologies was reward-
ing for enhancing my science pedagogy and allowed me to
model using these technologies for pre-service teachers.
3) Lecturer 3 (Primary Mu sic Education)
The course was implemented according to the University’s
mandatory three hours per week (one hour lecture and two hour
tutorial) model of delivery, with a further seven hours expecta-
tion allocated for course related self-study. The lectures were
designed to present the theoretical content through transmission
mode while the tutorials provided avenues for interactive prac-
tical application of the l ecture material. The Blackb oard course
site was identified as the platform best suited to harness the
potential of a range of instructional delivery technologies to
augment best features of face-to-face interaction. On the site
course content was offered from the beginning of the semester
in weekly folders consisting of lecture notes; lecture Power-
Point slides, and recommended readings. Each lecture was
captured weekly using Lecture Capture operating system and
uploaded to the course site within ten minutes of the lecture
concluding. This allowed students to repeatedly access the lec-
ture asynchronously for further engagement, reflection, and
clarification. It also afforded absent students access to the lec-
ture presentation.
I used an assessment Vodcast provided explanations of the
text-b ased assessment task which p roved valuable i n offerin g a
consistent explanation of assessment expectations, which both
students and sessional teaching staff could refer to throughout
the semester .
The virtual learning environment, Wimba classroom, was
opened for synchronous interaction five times during the seme-
ster of 50 minutes duration. This occurred after an overview of
operation was presented during the tutorial of week one. Fur-
ther text-based support materials were provided on Blackboard
site to guide the student through installing and running the
Wimba Wizard on their personal computers. The intention of
the Wimba classroom was to assist students to undertake the
written task successfully through support offered via alternate
ways. Sessions focused on academic writing skills, unpacking
the task, making sense of the prescribed readings and writing
the essay. The centrality of critical thinking underscored the
sessions. While this virtual learning environment offered syn-
chronous interact ion it was decided to archive al l the sessions to
allow asynchronous membership. This proved valuable for
students who were unable to actively participate during syn-
chronous availability.
Other resources uploaded to the Blackboard site include ex-
emplars of learning materials for music classrooms, suggested
further readings, tips and hints for assessment tasks, and shared
findings where students could upload resources suitable for the
teaching of music education in the primary school. As part of
the written assessment task, students were required to evaluate
one of these resources. To this end, www.artsmmadd. com was
provided as an open source conten t webpage for use.
Remote assignment submission was selected to reinforce the
use of ICTs within this course. This submission mechanism
allowed students to submit their assignment remotely from an
off-campus location.
A representation of access by source is presented in the dia-
gram below. It does not argue for any one source to be better or
superior to another, but rather provides the backdrop to discuss
the potential of each source to support the achievement of the
learning outcomes through scaffold learning, as shown in Fig-
ure 1.
Not surprisingly the Course Content received the highest
access. As l ectures wer e the pri ncipal mode of con tent del ivery
the 84% access of source suggests the importance and value
that students place on having access to the course content. In
the attempt to revamp the instructional delivery technologies
(IDT) with this course to cater for the ‘new’ learner by inte-
grating IDTs into the classroom, I expected a much higher
access percentage associated with the Lecture Capture and
Wimba sou rces. I can r atio n alize t he l ow acces s rate o f 55 % for
Lecture Capture through the high attendance rate of lectures,
but initially I could not fathom the low access rate of 10.9% for
the Wimba session. This required a closer examination.
Few students could grasp how to access the Wimba virtual
learning environment. Many spoke of the difficulties expe-
rienced trying to access Wimba from an off-campus location. I
recall during the first week of the semester having three stu-
dents arrive at my office and ask: “Where is the Wimba class-
room? You have not advertised the location.” I naively thought
that this was just the sentiment of a few students, but learned
that I was wrong. My assumption and expectation of a genera-
tion whom have been exposed since birth to the Internet and
hypertext to think and process information differently from
previous generations was inaccu rate. Advances in teaching and
learning come through evolution not revolution. I realized that
the students required scaffold learning to access and use the
learning technologies effectively to enhance their learning out-
comes in this course.
Student E xper ience
The following results are drawn from an analysis of three
data sources. The first is from an online survey that students
voluntarily completed at the beginning of the course. The sur-
vey contained a mix of closed and open questions that asked for
students’ opinions and comments on their prior learning expe-
riences at un iversi ty as well as their exp ectati on s ab ou t learning
in higher education. The second data source was a series of
focus group interviews conducted at the end of the course.
During these sessions students were asked a series of open-
ended questions designed to gather feedback on their expe-
rience with the digital tech nolo gies employed in each cou rse. A
thematic analysis of the data was conducted and these results
are described in detail below and summarised in the first two
columns of the data summary table at the end of this section.
The third and final data source was t he for mal uni versit y cou rse
and teach in g evalu ation surve ys (o r stud ent experi ence s urveys)
to which the authors added an open question that asked students
to provide feedback on the employment of digital technologies
in each course. The response to these surveys was poor and
nature of the responses was of limited use and so it is omitted
from the Data Summary Table that gives an overview of the
findings from the combined data sources.
1) Survey data: Students Prior Learning Experiences
The quantitative survey data regarding students’ exp er i ences
Figure 1.
Repre sentation of acces s by source.
with online learning indicates that a significant majority (>75%)
of the students surveyed had previous experience with access-
ing resources and other learning materials from the internet,
viewing PowerPoint presentations, participating in discussion
boards. A slightly smaller majority (65%) had experienced
some form of assessment online, while less th an half had expe-
rience with Wikis or audio-visual lecture-capture. Only two
students provided information about otheronline learning
experiences they had with Wimba and with Library-referenc-
When students spoke of their lecture experiences some key
themes emerged from the survey data. The first theme de-
scribed lectures in terms of a traditional mode of information
delivery that is teacher-centered. This is manifest in phrases
such as a lot of chalk and talk, being talked at, listening,
note-takingand, little interaction. A number of students
mentioned PowerPoint presentations as a common AV aid for
lectures that focused on theory and whose goal was to present
as much information as possible. Some students did ascribe
positive attributes to lectures/lecturers claiming they enjoyed
listening to an expert who could provide alternative perspec-
tives to the recommended readings and these students tended to
seek motivation to learn more and get some direction to attend
to further study.
When students explain how they expect learning to occur in
lectures and tutorials a significant number stated that lecturers
should be an “expert ” and see their role as providing the es-
sence of each week’s lecture topic in an interesting and engag-
ing manner. The y generall y desi r e more in teract io n between t he
speaker and the audience. They expect the lecturer to have on-
going communication with tutorial staff so the delivery of key
curriculum messages is consistent. Students clearly distinguish
tutorials from lectures as they describe more discussion and
interaction with tutors and peers taking place in tutorials. The
expected role of the tutor is to create a supportive learning en-
vironment where students can ask questions and bounce ideas
around to clarify their interpretation and gain a deeper under-
standing of the course content. Students also mentioned tuto-
rials as places to network with other students. They expect their
tutors to have deep knowledge of the subject matter.
When asked more specific questions about the use of tech-
nology in lectures and tutorials students stressed the importance
of teaching staff having the confidence and know-how to use
technology effectively and in appropriate/relevant ways. They
also identified audio-visual aids in lectures as assisting in
meaning-making by complimenting or elaborating upon any
written or print-based text. They would prefer a variety of dif-
ferent technologies be employed as they also identified their
use in catering for diverse learning styles. Apart fro m the Dis-
cussion Board, few students mentioned using other technology
to communicate with staff whilst social media (such as Face-
book) was the preferred contact with other students to discuss
more general aspects about the course delivery and content.
Nearly all students commented that quality technology was
vital for them to access resources and information. Other stu-
dents made indirect reference to wanting easy access to infor-
mation and resources through the organisation of the course
2) Focus Group Interviews: Students Learning Experiences
Post Implementation of New learning Technologies
Three focus group interviews were conducted with students
and the responses from both groups were similarly positive
about the employment of digital technologies in the courses
involved in the study. However one group claimed a persistent
preference for traditional modes of teaching and learning
through personal communication in face-to-face contexts with
print-based materials. All students interviewed agreed that the
technology employed did cater for different learning styles.
During one focus group discussion many of the students de-
clared their only prior experience with online engagement had
been through social media platforms. These platforms are dy-
namic and interactive and hold appeal for students. These same
students expressed that the design of learning technologies
promoted at Griffith University to be linear, static, and not par-
ticularly interactive.
The most significant finding from both group interviews is a
preference for three types of ICTs-Lecture Capture, Echo360
and the Discussion Board due to their ease of access and use,
and the assistance to learning they provide. There were differ-
ent reasons cited for using each of these technologies and the
number o f ti mes the y wer e accessed also differed. For instance
Lecture Cap ture was claimed to beneficial for clari fying content
interpretation and how ideas linked together although students
tended to access this only if they missed the lecture or if the
lecture focused on the upcoming assessment. The Discussion
Board was predominantly used to communicate with their peers
and teach ing staff to pursue alternat ive perspectives and clarify
instructions around assessment. Students claimed they preferred
the Discussion Board for asking for asking questions because it
allowed anonymity in the sense that they were faceless” in a
cohort where students were not that familiar with each other
(compared with a tutorial where, over time, students became
more familiar with others in the cohort). Students reported that
they also accessed an unofficial Facebook site for the course
where they could communicate between themselves about as-
pects o f the course and help each other to clarify things in their
own language.
All stud ents claimed regul ar and easy access to th e universi-
ty’s learning platform. They also all claimed preference for a
course s ites th at are well organise d in t erms course co nten t. For
example th ey benefited from course content being arranged into
weekly folders that contained the required weekly readings plus
a selection of optional learning resources. Students indicated
that this arrangement was appreciated as saved them a lot of
library and database search time with one student commenting
that this layout enabled him to pinpoint the learning outcomes
for each week and tie all of the resources together. However
all students agreed that they still needed the weekly tutorial
sessions to further tie the content together and align it with the
assessment requirements. Students claimed they were more
motivated to engage with these resources because the lecturer
selected t hem an d therefore th ey assu med these resou rces were
directly aligned with the course learning objectives.
The online assessment processes were well received with few
students reporting difficulties uploading their assignments.
There was a generally positive response to the SafeAssign re-
porting feedback as this highlights where they could improve
their referencing and it meant they felt more accountablefor
their citation skills. It also meant they could submit a draft at-
tempt and have the time (24 hours) to reflect and revise before
they could re-upload their final document. The interview data
revealed that students appreciated receiving assignment feed-
back from their tutor/marker online as it was easier to read
(when the Track Changes function was utilised land further-
more, it was retrievable to reflect on when they were complet-
ing other assignment in the future.
3) The SE C and SET feedback data
The limited data received from one open question in these
surveys supports the focus group interview data with students
claiming the technology employed assisted their learning, spe-
cifically mentioning Lecture Capture and the organisation of
course content material on the course websites. A number of
students suggested all lectures should be recorded but this
strategy should not replace face-to-face lectures. For the data
summar y pleas e see Table 1.
Implications for the School of Education and
Professional Studies and Initial
Teacher Education
The data obtained from the students and staff who partici-
pated in this research project has pedagogical implications for
employing digital learning technologies in higher education.
We belie ve t he findings are not limited to teacher educatio n and
can be generalized for consideration in other higher education
contexts. Therefore the conclusions that we draw from our
research can assist other most lecturers who are considering
using any of these technologies targeted in our research to en-
hance their course learning outcomes. Conducting the initial
survey on student experiences and expectations with learning in
higher education was a prudent move as the findings from this
data source indicate that we cannot assume that students are
motivated by, or know how to use or access the digital tech-
nologies we intend to employ in our courses. The fact that a
number of students still have a preference for face-to-face
communication with teaching staff suggests that we need to be
more explicit about our rationale for employing digital tech-
nologies and how they will assist and enhance student learning.
This finding further highlights the need for staff to be mindful
of the diverse learning styles amongst our student cohorts and
to demonstrate how a variety of digital and traditional peda-
gogical str ategies can cat er for th is diversity.
Our findings show that consideration of the diversity of prior
experience and knowledge about digital learning technologies
amongst the teaching staff is also paramount if they are being
used to enhance course learning outcomes. The data from the
case studies show that even though the staff were motivated to
undertake relevant p rofessional develo pment for each new dig-
ital technology, the pedagogy experienced in these sessions did
not necessarily assist in employing the technology in a range of
learning contexts. The data tells us that direct instruction in a
one-hour timeslot about how to use the technology was not
enough for staff to understand the complexities and challenges
that can arise once students engage with them. A more helpful
approach would be to include some discussions about the sorts
of problems that can and have emerged when employing new
technologies and how to overcome these. The findings from the
staff case studies also point to how essential it is to determine
the skill level of sessional staff employed to tutor students and
to make available timely professional development for these
people. If this is not done our results suggest that attempts to
enhance course learning outcomes will be undermined by in-
consistent or incompetent use of the technology by our session-
al staff. Students expect all teaching staff to be competent and
efficient users of technology and yet the burden of up skilling
in this area is on individual staff members who may not neces-
sarily be rewarded (through workload considerations) or remu-
nerated (in the case of sessional staff) for doing so.
Another significant finding that relates to those outlined
above is the need to explicitly teach students how to use digital
technologies to enhance their learning in addition to explaining
why and for what purpose they are being utilised. While all
students were comfortable with using the Blackboard learning
platform to access course content, there were varying degrees
of access and efficient use of Lecture Capture, the Discussion
Board and online assessment handling. While we acknowledge
that students have to access these tools in order to complete
their courses successfully, our research provides evidence that
explicitly teaching students the learning benefits of these tools
and explaining the different ways they can be utilised should
ensure better course delivery and outcomes. For example, it
was revealing for staff to discover that students use assignment
feedback provided online for assisting them to complete future
assignments in the same and other courses. This example alone
demonstrates the importance in finding out the variety of ways
this and other digital learning tools are utilised by our end-
Wimba proved to be the most problematic for students to
access and for one staff member the frustration experienced
with this learning tool meant it was scrapped before the course
commenced. Another concern for staff that emerged from this
research was student preference for social media sites such as
Twitter and Facebook to have “sideline” discussions about
specific cou rses and staff membe rs. Rath er than seei ng this as a
threat that might undermine our course communication via say,
the Discussion Board, we interpret this preference as something
which staff can capitalize on. For instance one staff member
circumvented any problems this may cause by setting up a
course Facebook site and monitoring the discussions thus pre-
venting the misinformation that can circulate between students
on these s ites.
The research findings outlined above give us some insight
into how students and staff experienced the employment of
some digital learning techn ologies in teach er education courses
at Griffith University. Even if these results are nuanced and
varied depending on staff and student skill level, experience
and motivation, we believe they can be used to assist other
university staff intending to enhance their course learning out-
comes through utilising digital learning technologies. However
in its current format our research findings are not easily trans-
lated into assisting associated pedagogical strategies in other
higher learning contexts. This understanding led us to search
for a model of learning into which we could input our findings
and enable them to be generalized for broader use. The most
appropriate model uncovered for teaching with digital technol-
ogies that caters for diverse learning styles and experience in
using technologies is the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model de-
veloped by Collins, Brown and Newman (1990). Based in con-
structivist approaches to human learning and situated learning
theory (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989), the model explains
how skills are more readily acquired in authentic learning con-
texts and by communicating with experts and others. The model
is also underpinned by the notion that teachers (as “experts”)
often fail to take into account implicit processes involved in
carrying our complex skills when they are teaching novices. In
other words, we too often overlook whether or not our students
have the requisite skills to engage with technologies that we
presume to be relatively simple because we have already
Table 1.
Data summary table.
Student Expectations
Student Experience
Staff Experience
In lectures and of the lecturer’s r ole
an “expe rt” whose role is to capture the
essence of the topic in an interesting
and engag ing m anner
students desire mor e interaction
between lecturer and the audience
In tutorials and the tutor’s role
creatinga supportive learning e
nvironme n t w he re stu dents ca n a sk
questions and bounce ideas around to
clarify their interpretation of the
course content in an effort to gain
a deeper understanding.
expect the ir tu tors to hav e deep
knowledge of the subject matter
key learning activity should
involve substantive conversations
between all participants
Of digital learning technologi es
teac h ing staf f need to be c o nfide nt
and u se t he techno l o gy in app ro priate
and rele vant ways
expect audio-visual aids in lectures to
assist meaning-making by
complimenting or e laborating
upon any written or print-base d r e sourc e
prefer a variety of different technologies
recognise their role in catering
for diverse learning styles
communicate wi t h sta ff and peers
through Discussi on Board
social media is the preferred contact
point with peers
quality technology is vital for
them to access resources
and information
With digital learnin g technologi es
positive about some digital technologies
but a significant numbe r claimed preference
for campus-based learning that
involves persona l communication
and some print-base d resources
the technologies employed did
cater for different le arning styles
a clea r preference for technologi es
with ease of access and assistance t o lea rning
Echo360 clarified expectations of
assessment tasks
Lecture Capture was beneficial
for clarifying how ideas linked t ogether
Disc u ssion bo a rd predomi nantly use d to
communicate wi t h pe e rs and te a ching
staff to pursue alternative perspectives
on ideas and clarify instructions around,
and requirements of the assessment tasks
comfortable with the anonymity of the
Discussion Board when as king questions
(described as “faceless” in a cohort
not all students are familiar with na mes)
significant number of students also
acces sed the “unoffici al” Faceb ook site
for courses where they could communicate
between themselves about aspects of
the course in their own language
org a ni sation of Blackboard site s is impo rtant
for tying the lecture content to the tutorial
activity and other learning resources. This
appears to differ widely across cou rses
but the re is a p refe rence for course
content to be well organised
positive about upl o ading required rea d in gs
and other relevant learning mate rials to
Blackboard. This saved time and
students’ assume direct alignment
with learning obje ctives
online assessment process well re ceived
especially in terms of submission on due dates
positive response to SafeAssign reports that
provide feedback on where students could
improve their referencingmade them fe el
“more accountable” for their citati on skills
appreciated receiving online feedback which
was easier to read and retrievable for reflecti on
when completing futur e assignments
Professional development
one-size-fits-all approach not appreciated;
needs to cater for diversity in expe rience and
confidence and teaching styles and contexts.
Appears to assume all staff have similar prior
knowledge and experience. Lack of critical
discussion around im plementati on challenges
frustration wit h a cc ess to so m e techno l o gies
led to rejection of taking risk
lack of support for quality pre-recor ding and
editing of lectures combined with an assumption
that all staff are comfortable with this
mode of de livery.
Course Implementation
the course content available from the
Blackboard site was accessed more
than any other learning resources/technology.
mixed response to Lecture Capture that
indicated less access with great er lecture
attendance (access ranged from 70% - 80%
of students in one course to less than 4% in another).
access to Lecture Capture was highest
within a week of assessment due dates
a downside of Lecture Capture is the lack
of editingstudent loss of interest and attention
tendency for students to only access
info r matio n w hen need e d
primary focus of the Discussion B oard
posting around assessment
Echo360 used inconsistently with more
attention paid to instructions about
assessment tasks and less in explanations
about the marking criteria
JPoll implemented successfully for assessing
students’ prior kn owledge and using the
results as basis of substantive conversation s
about selected topic
concerns about students using social media e.g.,
Facebook for discussions about course and
teaching staff. An awareness that misinformation
about assessment ins tructions and othe r key
messa g es bei ng exchange d betwee n stude n ts
issues with SafeAssign were numerous but also
easily re solved with better communication
and training of sessional staff and students
Wimba was the most difficult technology
for students to access
need to assist sessi onal staff to engage with
digital learning technologies in more consistent way
mastered these skills. Likewise, the same can be said of those
who provide professional development sessions for staff who
are learning how to use new technologies and who often appear
to make similar assumptions.
The cognitive apprenticeship model involves a series of pe-
dagogical strategies that run from a highly teacher-centered
approach to enabling full student direction over the learning.
Runni ng parall el to th ese pedago gical p ro cesses are t hree st ages
of learning: from cognitive to associate to autonomous cogni-
tion. The model is illustrated in Table 2.
This diagram indicates the cognitive apprenticeship model to
be a linear series of teaching processes associat ed with t he three
stages of cognition/learning. However, our results indicate that
in reality both the teaching and learning involved in utilising
new technologies is not static and instead may shift between
processes and stages in a d ynamic way dependin g on the exp e-
rience, motivation and disposition of the teacher and the learner.
What makes the model useful is its ability to associate the most
appropriate instructional delivery technology with the cognitive
stage of the learner. In order for the model to be used success-
fully, the learner must have an opportunity to articulate where
they believe th ey are along the scale of cogni tion and so teach-
ers need to provide this opportunity, preferably at the com-
mencement of the course or before the introduction of the deli-
very technology. This can be done by simply determining prior
knowledge and experience with different learning tools and
monitoring use and access of the tools as the course progresses.
Based on our experience detailed in the results of this study,
we have nominated particular instructional delivery technolo-
gies which best suit the cognitive stage of the student. This
nomination has formulated the instructional delivery technolo-
gy matrix and but this is not to suggest that this is representa-
tive of all possible available technologies. It is proposed that
the further develo pment of the matrix be organic depending on
learning context. Each instructional delivery technology in the
matrix has a hyperlink, which provides a detailed teachers
guide for use to enhance student learning (Please see Table 3).
Concl usion
This study examined the effects on teaching and learning for
three a cademi c sta ff memb ers an d th eir stud ents from integrating
of a variet y of digital technologies into their university teaching
and learning activities. Goodhue and Thompson (1995) suggest
that in order to have a successful outcome with technology
usage, the user(s) need to distinguish the goals for task and the
fit between the task and the technology. With this in mind, both
the staff and the students involved in this study were asked to
reflect on their goals and expectations around digital technolo-
gies, the degree to which the technology supported the task
asked of it, changes in student engagement within the university
course, and levels of satisfaction with technology. If technology
is going to have a positive impact on outcomes and satisfaction,
then the technology must first meet the needs of the user.
Therefore, this study focused on exploring the needs and un-
derstandings of the user(s) including attitude and beliefs to-
wards technology use, social norms around the use of technol-
ogy, prior comfort with technology use, experiences with other
form of technology, and any facilitating conditions.
Our findings showed diversity of assumptions, prior expe-
rience and knowledge about digital learning technologies
amongst the teaching staff and students. The data from the case
studies showed that even though the staff were willing to un-
dertake relevant professional development for each new digital
Table 2.
Three stages of learning from cognitive to associate to autonomous cognition.
The Cognitive Apprenticeship mode l applied to digital instructional technology usage matrix
Teacher direc te d
Student directed
Coaching Scaffolding Articulation Reflection Exploration
Table 3.
Three stages of learning from cognitive to associate to autonomous cogn ition.
The Cognit iv e Apprentic eship mo d el applied to digital instr uctional tech nology usage ma t rix
Modelling Coachin g Scaffolding Ar ticulati on Reflection Exploration
Skype Facebook Blogs Virtual learning
environment: Collaborate Blogs P ersonal le arning
Personal learning
networks Wikis Wikis Social networking
in Education Personal learnin g
networks Social networking
in Education
Google docs Skype Sk ype Personal learning ne tworks Social networking
in Education Google docs
Lecture capture Personal learning
networks Persona l learning
networks Digital portfolios Google docs Flipped classroom
Social networking
in Education Social networking
in Education Social networking
in Education Twitt er Twitter Twitter
Podcast Lecture capture Virtual learnin g
environment: Colla borate
Vodcast Virtua l learning
environment: Colla borate Podcast
Virtual learning
environment: Colla borate Podcast Twitter
Vodcast JPoll
The cognit ive stag e The asso ciativ e stage The autonomous stage
technology, the pedagogy experienced in these sessions did not
necessarily assist in employing the technology in a range of
learning contexts. To offer more support to staff, professional
development would include discussions of problems that can
and have emerged when employing the specific digital tech-
nologies and how to overcome them. While it is acknowledged
that students have to access a variety of digital technologies in
order to complete their courses successfully, our research pro-
vides evidence that explicitly teaching students the benefits of
these technologies and explaining different ways that students
can utilise these tools for learning will ensure better course
delivery and outco mes.
Our results also indicate that in reality both the teaching and
learning involved in utilising new digital technologies are not
static and instead may shift between processes and stages in a
dynamic way depending on the experience, motivation and
disposition of the teacher and the learner. To help both univer-
sity teaching staff and students understand how to cater for the
diverse learning styles and experience in using digital technol-
ogies, a modified Cognitive Apprenticeship Model was devel-
oped. What makes the model useful is its ability to associate the
most appropriate instructional delivery technology with the
cognit ive stage o f the l earner . B y ad dres sin g both the n eeds and
goals of the users, and the features of the technology, this mod-
el speaks to the factors that influence technology-task fit. Pro-
moting awareness and understanding of the relationship be-
tween the technology and the needs and goals of its user(s) is
essential to increasing engagement and s atisfaction.
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