Digital diarists give a glimpse into the student experience

The DIGE 2 project is now well under way. In February the core project team of Liz and Sarah was joined by three graduate students from the Department of Education: Kinga Petrovai, Laura Pinkerton and Erin Young.

1200px-Cuddling_with_multiple_devices CC BY Tom Morris

Image CC BY Tom Morris (from Flickr)

In contrast with our previous project DIGE 2 has a greater focus on students. Investigating how they learn with digital technologies is taking priority over what they use, in terms of the actual systems and services, and so we’re taking a more qualitative approach. The centrepiece of our data so far is a collection of 21 ‘digital diaries’ and transcriptions from follow-up interviews gathered from Oxford students at all levels of study. We asked each student to describe a real day in their life, preferably one in which they were out and about having classes and/or going to libraries, and to record when these activities involved the use of digital technologies. They could also take photographs to provide additional detail. We used the diary technique to great effect in DIGE ‘1’ and in the Thema project in 2008; students find it doesn’t intrude too much into their day. They often comment in retrospect that they hadn’t realised how much they use digital devices as they go about their daily business!

We are also collecting data from students through an online survey and have held a highly successful focus group involving students with disabilities. Interviews with members of academic staff have begun, in order to elicit their perspectives on current themes in the student digital experience. These include students’ preparedness for studying with digital technologies at university, their use of mobile devices and the question of universities’ responsibility to equip students with the digital skills needed in their future employment. The staff survey is open until 24th April: if you are an Oxford academic who is involved in teaching undergraduates and/or postgraduates on taught Master’s courses, you are invited to contribute your views.

For further information about DIGE 2, contact liz.masterman@it.ox.ac.uk.

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