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Where and why university students choose to use computing facilities: Report on collaborative study at an Australian and United Kingdom university

Burke, L., Beranek, L., Walton, G. and Stubbings, R. (2007) Where and why university students choose to use computing facilities: Report on collaborative study at an Australian and United Kingdom university. In: Information Online 2007: 13th Exhibition and Conference, 30 January - 1 February 2007, Darling Harbour, Sydney

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Students’ learning experiences and expectations in higher education have been transformed across the world in recent years. A major driver has been the impact of information and communication technologies. These trends have occurred alongside the increased provision of computers in university environments and the improved technological skills on the part of students.

The rapid changes in technology suggest that within a few years, providing large numbers of computers may not be what students want or need. In order to plan for appropriate services and support, university departments need to develop a deeper understanding of where and why students use computing facilities.

At La Trobe University in Australia and Loughborough University in the UK, the main places students use computing facilities are the library, a faculty-provided computer lab, or a centralised computer lab provided by the University IT department. Library staff from both universities initiated a research project to gather data in this area.

The authors will report on the results of the survey which was conducted during 2005 at both institutions. The survey investigated where students chose to use computing facilities and the types of factors which influenced their decision such as opening hours, availability of technical support, wireless facilities, and the range of software applications available.

The authors will also report on the experience of conducting a collaborative research project across two hemispheres and will explore the differences and similarities experienced by the two universities in conducting the project. They will also explore the experience of collaborating with colleagues within their respective universities as without the involvement of the IT departments, the survey would not have been possible.

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