Supporting seamless learners: exploring patterns of multiple device use in an open and distance learning context
Educators need to be aware of not just what their students are learning, but how and why as well. This study investigates how Open and Distance Learning (ODL) students make use of multiple devices for learning, particularly how students use their devices together. This study is situated in the context of ‘seamless learning’, where ODL students learn at different times, in different locations and with the use of different technologies. Understanding the needs and learning practices of students can help to improve the design of learning experiences and support offered to students. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews at two ODL universities, one in Spain and one in South Africa. The results show that while students mainly use one digital device at a time, they sometimes make use of two or more devices together. This usage can be characterised as sequential (moving from one device to another) or simultaneous (using two or more devices together at a time). This article describes the study patterns associated with sequential and simultaneous use of multiple devices, facilitated by the use of different devices and synchronisation tools. A continuum of seamless learners is proposed that can be used to help identify levels of support required by ODL students.
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