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Digital Literacies in Higher Education: Student Resilience

Key messages from the JISC-funded project focussing on postgraduate students at the Institute of Education

Student Resilience

The majority of students were resilient in their use of digital technologies even when faced with many difficulties and frustrations.

More often than not, students would reject digital processes that did not work well, fast enough or reliably enough or which were deemed too complex to master (more often than not, library catalogues and traditional referencing software such as EndNote or analysis software such as SPSS fell into the latter category).

Most students, however, saw the digital as a necessary part of their studies (and lives more generally) and many saw (and were often surprised by) its utility in different areas.

At the same time, there was an increasing feeling amongst students that there was too much technology creeping into all areas of their lives; that this was an inevitable encroachment and that it was ‘here to stay’.

Students were more likely to become frustrated by technology than to fear it. Where fear was evident was in students’ perception of a loss of control over time spent on the digital, over privacy and personal data, over identity and an increasing inability to keep disparate parts of their life separate.

Despite a willingness to tackle issues, the intrusion of the digital and an ensuing sense of disconnect from the ‘real world’ was a serious issue for a notable minority of students.

Key Messages

Resilience did not generally equate to persistence with a problematic tool, but rather, persistence in pursuance of a digital solution.

1.  Note that students will give up if they do not see relevance to using software for their work or if there are quicker alternatives to the digital library, e.g. Google Scholar.

2. Ensure students understand the pros and cons of using different resources (subscribed library vs. freely available resources on the internet).

3. Ensure students are made aware of the long term impact of their digital identities and provide appropriate training.

Alternative Software Solutions for Referencing