The 'obvious' stuff: exploring the mundane realities of students' digital technology use in school


  • Neil Selwyn Monash University
  • Selena Nemorin UCL Institute of Education
  • Scott Bulfin Monash University
  • Nicola F Johnson Edith Cowen University



students, digital technology, digital education, high school


This paper explores the ways in which students perceive digital technology as being helpful and/or useful to their schooling. Drawing upon survey data from students (n=1174) across three Australian high schools, the paper highlights seventeen distinct digital ‘benefits’ in domains such as information seeking, writing and composition, accessing prescribed work, scheduling and managing study tasks. While these data confirm the centrality of such technologies to students’ experiences of school, they also suggest that digital technology is not substantially changing or ‘transforming’ the nature of schools and schooling per se. Instead, students were most likely to associate digital technologies with managing the logistics of individual study and engaging with school work in distinctly teacher-led linear and passive ways. As such, it is concluded that educationalists need to temper enthusiasms for what might be achieved through digital technologies, and instead develop better understandings of the realities of students’ instrumentally-driven uses of digital technology.


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