UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Using digital technologies to enhance first-year students’ learning in a communication and academic literacy skills course at the University of Botswana Conteh, Brigid Goitse


Advances in technology have influenced the ways in which students read, write, and communicate. The advent of the Internet and other digital technologies in the classroom has encouraged educators to supplement traditional pedagogies with those that integrate digital technologies in order to cater to students’ academic and professional needs—needs that include the ability to navigate large repositories of multimodal information on the Internet to locate, evaluate, organize, and use relevant information. Further, the emergence of new technologies demands that educators explore their potential for new ways of reading and writing as well as for fostering participatory and collaborative learning in classroom instruction. This case study aimed to investigate University of Botswana first-year students’ use of digital technologies to enhance learning in the Communication and Academic Literacy Skills (COM) course. A qualitative approach—using a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, observations, and document reviews—was taken to determine the technologies that were available for student use at the university, how the digital technologies were used to enhance student learning, whether the use of digital technologies contributed to the development of students’ academic literacies, and lecturer perceptions of students’ use of digital technologies to enhance their learning. Data from 63 students and two lecturers, purposely sampled, were analyzed for emergent themes, revealing generally that (a), although students were exposed to a variety of digital technologies the university provided, they did not use them to enhance their learning due to a lack of digital literacy skills and (b), although participants acknowledged the potential of using digital technologies for effective learning and teaching, resource challenges—such as a lack of working computers, unreliable Internet connections, and a lack of digital skills—impacted the integration of technology into the COM course. With new and emerging technologies rapidly increasing, this study highlights (a) the need for exploration into the use of these new digital technologies for teaching and learning, (b) professional development for lecturers on the effective integration of these technologies into instruction, and (c) policy formation and implementation regarding the use of these technologies for the promotion of 21st-century skills.

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