Are students getting used to Learning Technology? Changing media usage patterns of traditional and non-traditional students in higher education

Carina Dolch, Olaf Zawacki-Richter


In 2012 (N = 2339) and 2015 (N = 1327), a longitudinal analysis was carried out to investigate changes in the media usage patterns of German higher education (HE) students, with a special emphasis on differences between traditional students (TS) and non-traditional students (NTS). Based on an online questionnaire, the students provided information about the digital devices they own or have access to, on the frequency of use as well as perceived value of digital media, e-learning tools and services for their learning in HE. The presented results indicate implications for the instructional design of teaching and learning in HE. In general, the findings show a shift towards using mobile devices. Unexpectedly, the frequency of media usage is slightly, but significantly, decreasing from 2012 to 2015. Furthermore, the results are discussed based on a media usage typology that distinguishes between entertainment users, peripheral users, advanced users and instrumental users. NTS are over-represented in the group of instrumental users who tend to apply e-learning tools a lot. Moreover, NTS state a higher demand for digital teaching and learning formats than TS.

Published: 5 October 2018

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2018, 26: 2038 -


media usage patterns; media usage typology; non-traditional students; instructional design; media selection

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