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You are reading: Different backgrounds – different priorities? Student perceptions of a technology initiative

Written by Miikka J. Eriksson and Hanna Vuojärvi

ABSTRACT
A multitude of studies has assessed the success of different technology initiatives but rarely has the focus been on special groups. This paper examines whether university students with children and those without have different perceptions of a technology initiative where students were able to acquire university sponsored laptops and were provided with a wireless local area network around campus. The division of students into these two groups is based on earlier research suggesting that the study of students with children is heavily restricted by their multiple commitments and they might, therefore, have quite different priorities from other students in their perception of this technology initiative. The results acquired by the combined use of ‘strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats’ (SWOT) analysis and analytic hierarchy process (AHP) suggest that both students with and without children consider the increased ‘effectiveness of studying’ the most important strength of the laptop initiative. It seems, however, that students with children especially appreciate the mobility and flexibility that laptops and networks offer, while other students value more the functionality of the university infrastructure and are more concerned about the deteriorative effects of technology on communality within the university. Results, therefore, indicate that students’ background affects their priorities when assessing technology initiatives and university attention to this may prevent drop out and prolonged graduation.

Eriksson, M. J., & Vuojärvi, H. (2014). Different backgrounds – different priorities? Student perceptions of a technology initiative. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(2). 272-285. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2013.832165.
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