Are all students 'hard to reach' in a digital higher education (H.E.) context?

Stella Jones-Devitt, Liz Austen, Brian Irwin, Kieran McDonald, Helen J. Parkin


Students entering Higher Education (HE) have high levels of digital capability built on the need to be socially-connected; they should be 'easy to reach’ if thinking about connectivity underpinning the digital age. Yet findings based on commissioned work exploring digital capability and teaching excellence (Austen et al, 2016) indicate that student appraisals of this relationship relate to the logistical benefits of technology rather than to the development of capabilities for professional practice, i.e. the multi-faceted set of academic and information-retrieval skills. Our study highlights a pedagogical challenge in needing to re-frame digital capability for all learners new to HE as this 'hard to reach' phenomenon is maintained by a student focus on technological hygiene factors rather than supported risk-taking.


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