One in five students use the entire range of digital media
The use of digital media varies considerably from subject to subject. Computer science students in particular make full use of the wide range of technical possibilities available. On the whole, the majority of students are rather conservative in their use of digital media. This is the conclusion reached by a study conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education within the German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age (Hochschulforum Digitalisierung)
Approximately one fifth of students in Germany (21 per cent) use the entire range of digital media for study purposes. By digital media, we mean not only digital examinations, but also social communication tools such as blogs and innovative formats like simulation games. Compared to the other subjects represented in the survey, computer science students were found to make up a particularly high proportion of this group of “digital all-rounders”. In fact, one-third of computer science students use the whole range of digital teaching media.
This was the result of the study entitled “Lernen mit digitalen Medien aus Studierendenperspektive” (Learning using digital media from a student perspective), which was evaluated by members of the “Innovation in teaching and assessment” expert group of the German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age.
In order to define the level of use of digital media in higher education, the authors of the study differentiated between four types of user, namely “PDF users”, “e-examinees,” “video learners” and “digital all-rounders”.
The largest group (30 per cent) belong to the “PDF user” category. These students continue to work primarily with traditional digital media, with PDF documents and PowerPoint presentations, and communicate by email. Among the subjects examined in the survey, a high percentage of nursing science students were found to belong to this group (56 per cent).
One in four students in Germany can be assigned to the “e-examinee” category. The members of this group additionally use e-assessment formats and sit digital exams in the course of their studies. The proportion of students of medicine (47 per cent) and dentistry (35 per cent) in this group are high due to the practice of offering standardised exams in these disciplines.
23 per cent of those surveyed belong to the third user group, the “video learners”. While only 12 per cent of dentistry students, for instance, are “video learners”, a high percentage of computer science students are represented in this group (34 per cent). The “digital all-rounders” are also represented much more strongly in this subject (31 per cent) than the average rate across all subjects (21 per cent). The degree of digitisation is shown to be dependent on the courses offered. One of the authors, Julius-David Friedrich, stressed: “The extensive private use of digital media does not necessarily translate to a similarly extensive use in everyday life at university. There is only a widespread use of digital media if they constitute an obligatory component of the learning process.”
The study also revealed that the use of digital media within a subject differs considerably from university to university. This is also evidence that the concrete teaching practice and culture at a particular university has a major impact on the extent to which its students use digital media.
For this reason, the authors of the study are calling for digital media to become firmly entrenched in university teaching beyond their isolated use. “Wherever digital learning formats represent a didactical added value for students, they should be proactively used by universities and their teaching staff,” stated Friedrich.
Abbout the study
“Lernen mit digitalen Medien aus Studierendenperspektive” (Learning using digital media from a student perspective) is the first study of its kind that reveals how students throughout Germany use digital media for study purposes. To achieve this, the authors Malte Persike and Julius-David Friedrich assessed responses by almost 27,500 students from 153 HEIs in 11 subjects given with the CHE University Ranking 2014/2015.
The German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age is a joint initiative of the Stifterverband, the CHE Centre for Higher Education and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). The German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Subdivided into six expert groups, around 70 experts work to resolve pressing issues concerning the digitisation of university teaching.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.