Creating conducive learning environments with students: Technology Enhanced Learning – distraction or enhancement ?

Students on the Education Studies degree at the University of Worcester value the use of technology to support their learning. Feedback has shown that they would like guidance to be created, in collaboration between staff and students, to establish consistent protocols for the use of hand-held devices (mobile phones and tablets) in taught sessions. Evidence suggests that students can find the misuse by other students (ie: non-task related use of mobile phone or tablet) a distraction to learning.

This aligns with staff feedback that recognises that whilst the impact of technology enhanced learning (TEL) in promoting the enhancement of student experience is evident (from class room observations by members of staff and through student feedback), many students are engaging with social media and other communication activities during the lecture time (non-task related use). We can consider this engagement a part of modern living, a habit of multi-tasking, but is this really the defining behaviour pattern and identity of ‘The App Generation’ of students (Gardner & Davis, 2014)? This paper discusses to what extent this behaviour is impairing learning or in fact distilling learning and explores evidence that students’ engagement in lectures may or may not be distracted by the use of mobile devices.
The aims of this action research project were:
• to gather students’ views about the use of mobile devices in lectures and consider the impact on learning.
• to gather the views of staff and consider some case studies of how they might handle the matter of mobile devices in lectures.
• to co-design a set of guidelines in partnership with students that may inform a Student Code of Conduct for TEL within BA (Hons) Education Studies at the University of Worcester