Experiences and challenges of international students in technology-rich learning environments
This article presents a study of international students and their use of technology in a Scandinavian institution of Higher Education. A special emphasis is placed on patterns of use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) that is available to all the study programmes at the institution. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is used as a theoretical approach to focus on the socio-material nature of the various networks that students, teachers, course designers, and artefacts make up within the realm of the institution. Qualitative data were collected through interviews with forty informants, all of them students or staff members at the studied institution. The main findings of the study are that the following factors are essential in the educational experience of international students: the students’ level of digital literacy, their degree of understanding of academic and administrative language, and the types of technology that are used in communication. The article also suggests that technology as a socio-material assemblage may encapsulate cultural codes that can be alienating for international students and that there is a need to “open the black boxes” of technology to cater for the needs of international students.
Habib, Laurence Marie Anna