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Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, v18 n1 p30-45 2014

In this paper, we explore the relationship between student success in acquiring software literacy and students' broader engagement and understanding of knowledge across different disciplines. We report on the first phase of a project that examines software literacies associated with Microsoft PowerPoint as a common software package encountered and used by most students at tertiary level. Student data was collected through an online survey and focus-group interviews. One hundred and seventy-nine first-year Engineering and Media Studies students from a New Zealand university responded to the survey. A majority of students considered themselves to be confident and comfortable in engaging with new technologies, had access to mobile-based technologies or laptops, and relied on this hardware and related software for electronic forms of communication and information access in their university courses. On the whole, students expressed a preference for informal strategies (including trial and error) when learning about PowerPoint, expected it to be used in their university coursework, and could identify its related affordances and constraints, and how those affected their learning. Despite their familiarity with PowerPoint, students fell short in their ability to critique the ways the software shaped their understanding of disciplinary knowledge. Implications are discussed in terms of university teaching, including the nature of support services.

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Computer Literacy, Computer Software, College Freshmen, Engineering Education, Media Literacy, Visual Aids, Online Surveys, Student Surveys, Focus Groups, Interviews, Self Efficacy, Access to Computers, Computer Mediated Communication, Electronic Learning, Preferences, Learning Strategies, Familiarity, Knowledge Level, Qualitative Research

DEANZ: New Zealand Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning. Open Polytechnic, 3 Cleary Street Private Bag 31914, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand. Tel: +64-3-345-8246; Web site:

Autor: Khoo, Elaine; Hight, Craig; Cowie, Bronwen; Torrens, Rob; Ferrarelli, Lisabeth


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