Higher education students' experiences of digital learning and (dis)empowerment

Cristina Costa, Mark Murphy, Ana Lucia Pereira , Yvette Taylor

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This paper focuses on learning practices in higher education in relation to a digital participatory culture. Using key principles of critical education, especially those related to participation, communication, transformation and contextualisation of learning as forms of learning autonomy, the research set out to explore higher education students’ sense of agency online – or lack of it –as part of their formal learning practices. The research found that although students were proficient web users, they did not exercise their learner agency beyond what they assumed to be expected of them, thus evidencing the stability of their learning habitus in relation to the learning conventions associated with the academic field. More surprisingly however is perhaps students’ perception of the web not only as a space of student participation but also one of student surveillance, a real obstacle to meaningful learning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Jan 2018


  • digital practices
  • digital education
  • empowerment
  • surveillance
  • habitus
  • doxa
  • digital culture


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