Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

More evidence of the limits of student technical knowledge

The following is just a “diary entry” recording a bit more evidence for the story that our students are neither digital natives nor digitally literate. It may or may not become useful in future research/writing. It’s not meant to be insightful, just a record of an experience.

The context is marking of assignment 1 for EDC3100. 300 odd students have created online artefacts via their choice of online tool. Youtube videos, Wix/Weebly/Wordpress websites, Sliderocket and Prezi are the most common I’ve seen so far. There have been some really good ones and some not so good ones. But there’s also been some evidence to suggest limits on the student’s technical knowledge.

Most of the problems appear to revolve around the idea of providing a URL to a post on the student’s blog that includes a URL to the online artefact. The double link caused some problems, but also has the idea of providing a URL. Some examples from tonight

  1. Rather than provide a URL for the post, students are providing the URL for their blog.
  2. A small number of students is providing a URL to their blog, which doesn’t have any posts with links to their online artefact.
  3. Prezi URLs.

    Been a small trend with Prezi URLs not working. It appears that the students are providing a “long URL” generated from something they see. I’m assuming copying from the browser. This URL doesn’t work for anyone but them. If we cut away some extraneous material, we get to a URL that works.

  4. Spectacularly wrong URLs.

    For example, we’ve seen URLs like this

    for blogs that are actually located at

As mentioned previously

  • These are 3rd year students the majority of whom have some significant online learning experience beyond their own typical use of social media.
  • This perhaps says more about the technology and its design and use than the students themselves.
  • It raises questions about some of the assumptions underpinning common institutional e-learning practice within universities.
  • It raises questions about whether encouraging exploration, creativity and student choice can be viable in a course with 300+ students and limited time and support resources.

    i.e. the time I’ve spent diagnosing and fixing these mistakes has taken time away from engaging with student queries about the course content and assessment.


An ad hoc exploration ethnographic research


Application or targeted learning analytics – another scope?


  1. I am on of your EDC3100 students and I would just like to comment on the Prezi aspect. When providing creating a Prezi there was an option to present online and here I assume is the part where the links are not working. This presentation option provides a link but also comes with this following statement which explains the difficulty that has arisen.

    “Invited audience will follow you as you navigate and present.
    This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation.
    A maximum of 30 users can view together your Prezi.” There is also a start presentation button.

    • G’day Rachel, Thanks for pointing one of the possible sources of the problem. Most tools have something like this. One of the drawbacks of allowing student choice is that each one is a little different and each has their own little wrinkle which creates a problem. One question is how to minimise the impact of this without impacting creativity and choice. David.

  2. The problem is most students are scared of technology, the current university generation has not been immersed in technology, like the primary school children we are expected to teach. Students struggle enough with moodle studydesk and the numerous ways they are presented in different courses. The problem is partially the attitude, possibly these students struggling need a crash course in computing where students have success the attitude may change. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to technology and picked up things quickly and can now see how the simple skills are often interchangeable with the technology used. To me it is logic, to another it is bazaar as they don’t understand.

    • Thanks for the comment Rachel. Reminds me of some of the issues. But I wonder about the effects of immersion. Wondering whether it’s enough? For example, I believe a large proportion of the current crop of students have been immersed in Facebook. If we used only Facebook I imagine this collection of students going great guns. But with Moodle, blogs, Diigo etc we’re taking them out of their immersion zone. Hence the problems.

      Will the next generation who have been immersed, still have the same problem? Will they only be “natives” in their own digital “country” and struggle if we take them outside it?

      I suppose time and/or research might tell.

  3. That is so true David, but you also have to remember we are aiming at teaching students life long learning. I feel this should (if done correctly) will impact students ability to perform out of their comfort zone.

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