20 Feb 2019

Digital learning – making use of technology

What kinds of experiences do students have on learning/study techniques in digital learning? What is the ideal group size in web studies? How does one take notes? Do students utilize mobile technology? Find out what Humak students answered when asked these questions.

Humak students took part in a web survey called Digital learning – making use of technology in May-June 2018. The survey was answered by 101 students. Humak takes the student point of view seriously. The purpose was, in addition to collecting information, to make students consider/contemplate their learning techniques and digital learning. Web-based courses are included in some extent in all studies. The students taking part in the survey were students from Humak community educator education, cultural management education, and interpreter education. A special thank you for everyone involved. This article represents a summary of survey-answers to only certain questions concerning educational technology.

Survey results

Answers from all Humak campuses and each educational field

The survey was circulated through (Humak) internal communication to over 1000 students. 57 answers were gotten from the capital region, 18 from Kuopio, 16 from Turku, and 10 form Jyväskylä. The most active group were the day students (n=78). Also 21 multiform students answered the survey. The distribution of answers according to the student’s educational field was as follows: Community educator 72%, Cultural Manager 21%, and Interpreter 7%. The survey was answered by both students who were under 25 years old and even by some who were over 55 years old. The biggest age group was the 25-35-year-old students (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1. The percentage of age groups among the respondents in the AduLeT survey (n=101).

The meaningfulness of digital learning

Web studies are studies and learning tasks done in digital learning environments. The students were asked if they were happy to choose web based studies (n=101) (Diagram 2). The majority of the respondents disagreed or somewhat disagreed with this question. In other words, the majority of the respondents would not willingly choose web based studies. When asked if the students thought web based studies were a natural way of learning, the results concurred with the previous results. Minority, 29% of the respondents, thought web based studies were a somewhat natural or altogether natural way of learning.

Diagram 2. The meaningfulness of digital learning (n=101)

What is a sensible group size in web studies?

Special attention in AduLeT-project is paid to students’ opinion on what the appropriate group size for web studies would be. As the most sensible group size for web studies was considered 3-5 students (n=101 the amount of answers chosen: 155) (Diagram 3).   

Diagram 3 Sensible group size (n=101)

In open responses (n= 58) arguments were among others following:

Everyone’s effort matters in a small group

In my experience, the responsibilities are divided more and more unevenly as the group size increases and the bigger the group is the more likely it is that there are members in the group who don’t invest in the matter at hand.

There are different kinds of learners and know-how in a 3-5 student group, but the group is small enough for everyone to get their voices heard, and decision making on matters of common concern is fluent.

Visual learning techniques are popular

In the question ”What learning techniques do you use regularly?” (n=101, amount of responses chosen: 425) over half of the respondents say that they draw diagrams or mind maps, use different colors for marking, and take photographs (screen shots) of the material they are studying. Also Post-its are utilized by half of the students. Nevertheless, the most popular study technique by far is asking help from a fellow student, in 62% of the responses help from a fellow student is asked regularly. Visual study techniques are used in various ways and in all the educations it is customary to ask a fellow student for help. In the open responses taking notes recurred as a general study technique. Four respondents named discussion as a functioning study technique. In diagram 4 below the popularity of study techniques is presented in percentages.

Diagram 4. The popularity of study techniques (in number of persons/students) among all respondents (n=101, amount of responses chosen: 425)

Notes are taken traditionally by utilizing digital means

In the survey it was possible to choose the note taking tool from several different alternatives (Diagram 5) (n=100, responses altogether: 1155) Almost all respondents use paper notes and about 60% take photographs with their phones. Over 40% use Google Drive and Print Screen-function to copy the view on the screen. Also One Drive documents from the Office 365 package were very commonly used.


Text: Tiina Roos, Community Educator student, Nurmijärvi Campus, Humak University of Applied Sciences (UAS) and Päivi Timonen, Senior Lecturer, Online Learning Specialist, Humak UAS
Picture: © Rawpixel.com - stock.adobe.com