Original Research

Evaluation of coursework information access and sharing on smart devices by postgraduate students

Elelwang J. Dhlamini, Martie A. Mearns
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 21, No 1 | a991 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v21i1.991 | © 2019 Elelwang Julia Dhlamini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 April 2018 | Published: 28 March 2019

About the author(s)

Elelwang J. Dhlamini, Department of Information and Knowledge Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Martie A. Mearns, Department of Information and Knowledge Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: There is a growing trend for students to use their smart devices to share coursework information and access social media platforms. Although smart devices have been in existence and used by the students for several years, very little has been documented on the coursework information accessed and shared on smart devices.

Objectives: The study focused on investigating academic activities in terms of students’ coursework information accessing and sharing, which include the type of information they use their smart devices for and the frequency of using their smart devices to access coursework information and sources of information. The study also identified challenges that students come across while accessing and sharing coursework information.

Method: The mixed-method sequential research approach was used to collect data using questionnaires and interviews. The quantitative phase involved the collection and analysis of data using questionnaires. Questionnaires were sent online to the entire population of 255 students who had completed their workshops and were not on campus any more, as well as a paper format questionnaire that was handed out to the 60 MCom first-year students who were still attending their workshops on campus. A total of 315 questionnaires were sent to the students. There were 61 online questionnaires and 51 paper questionnaires returned. Therefore, a total of 112 questionnaires were returned. The qualitative phase involved the collection and analysis of data using interviews with 10 participants.

Results: The results revealed that students used their smart devices for accessing and sharing coursework activities such as announcements, handouts, lecture notes and articles. Bibliographic references, group discussion notes, online articles and book lists were accessed and shared frequently by participants. Students used their smart devices frequently to access sources of information such as Blackboard, academic databases and Google Scholar.

Conclusion: The implications and contributions of the study are that although students use their smart devices regularly, there is a need for institutions to understand the type of information that is gathered and shared using smart devices. As students also access social media platforms they need to understand the implications of relevant policies.


Keywords

smart devices; tertiary students; coursework; social media; challenges; information sources

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