Touching knowledge: digital media practice and medium theory informing learning on mobile touch screen devices

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Renolds, Victor Alexander (2017) Touching knowledge: digital media practice and medium theory informing learning on mobile touch screen devices. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


The years since 2007 have seen the worldwide uptake of a new type of mobile computing device with a touch screen interface. While this context presents accessible and low cost opportunities to extend the reach of higher education, there is little understanding of how learning occurs when people interact with these devices in their everyday lives. Medium theory concerns the study of one type of media and its unique effects on people and culture (Meyrowitz, 2001, p. 10). My original contribution to knowledge is to use medium theory to examine the effects of the mobile touch screen device (MTSD) on the learning experiences and practices of adults. My research question is: What are the qualities of the MTSD medium that facilitate learning by practice? The aim of this thesis is to produce new knowledge towards enhancing higher education learning design involving MTSDs. The project involved a class of post-graduates studying communications theory who were asked to complete a written major assessment using their own MTSDs. Their assignment submissions form the qualitative data that was collected and analysed, supplemented with field notes capturing my own post-graduate learning experiences whilst using an MTSD. I predominantly focus on the ideas of Marshall McLuhan within the setting of medium theory as my theoretical framework. The methods I use are derived from McLuhan's Laws of the Media (1975), its phenomenological underpinnings and relevance to the concept of `flow' (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014b, p. 24). The key finding of the study is that the experience of being in control is a central issue for students when they use the MTSD to learn. In pursuing this issue I discover the relevance of paradox to my investigation, which develops as the centrepiece theme and method that I deploy for my further analysis of the MTSD.

Additional Information

Master of Arts

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1005 Communications Technologies
Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords mobile touch screen device, learning, medium theory, higher education, learning design
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