Graduates for a Digital Age - Enhancing the first-year experience with digital tools

Lane, Brid (2012) Graduates for a Digital Age - Enhancing the first-year experience with digital tools. In: AISHE-Conference 2012: Responding to Change: Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30th & 31st August 2012, Dublin City University, Ireland..


Many students find the transition to higher education difficult. Drop-out rates for the first year can be as high as 26% (HEA Ireland). Facilitating usage of digital tools in and outside of the classroom in this early stage can help ease students into third level education. It can build on students’ existing technology skills, provide a good foundation for enhanced learning and ultimately contribute to the quality of graduates for the digital age. This research concerns using digital tools with an Introduction -To-Computing module in a first year level 6 & 7 programme in Legal Studies. There were two cohorts in successive years. Focus groups were carried out with the students after each implementation. Student grades in the assessments that used the material integrated into the tools were also used as an evaluation mechanism. First cohort: the Moodle quiz tool was used as a revision aid and screencasts relevant to the students’ subject area were sourced from While students found the quizzes helpful to their studies, the interface was considered user-unfriendly and the quizzes were not downloadable. The screencasts, while useful, did not cover all required content features and students reported too many different presentation styles across the different screencasts. Second cohort: Articulate Quizmaker was used to avoid the problems with the Moodle quiz tool. The researcher created a set of screencasts addressing all the features of one component of study on the program. Learning outcomes were achieved for those students who engaged with the tools. They were well able to incorporate learning achieved into their assessment work. For others, learning benefits did not go much beyond surface learning. This is likely due to the lower ability and motivational issues of the cohort than the tools themselves. Engaging with higher level studies remains a challenge to these particular students.

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