Developing a typology of mobile apps in Higher Education: A national case-study




Mobile Application, App, Higher Education, Typology


Mobile applications (apps) are used in higher education (HE) in a variety of ways, including as learning tools, study organisers, for marketing, and recruitment of new students. Purposed with easing student transition into university life, organiser apps have a capacity to assist students with various aspects of university experience, freeing up time and energy for study, while apps used as learning tools can help students solidify the content of lectures, self-test their knowledge of the subject, and collaborate with peers. Despite the proliferation of HE apps, there is still no systematic understanding of this field, with a number of important questions remaining unanswered, such as what types of apps are most commonly found in HE, what their complex uses are, and how their affordances and functionalities are deployed by universities and students. This study addresses this gap. After analysing 177 apps affiliated with Australian universities, a typology of HE apps is proposed. Study management and navigation apps emerge as the most common types of apps offered to students, with augmented and/or virtual reality apps forming another key category. New insights are offered pertaining to the complex terrain of HE mobile apps, and problematic areas arising from this research, such as safety, student support, privacy, and equity, are discussed.


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Author Biography

Ekaterina Pechenkina, Swinburne University of Technology

Dr Katya (Ekaterina) Pechenkina is Research Fellow based at the Office of Senior DVC & Provost - Learning Transformations as well as ex officio Research Fellow at Swinburne Institute for Social Research. A cultural anthropologist and education researcher, her current work is located at the intersection of education, technology and identity. Her PhD in anthropology (University of Melbourne, 2014) focused on Indigenous Australian academic success in higher education and employed Bourdieuian notion of cultural capital as well as critical race theory to identify key elements of Indigenous Australian culture of academic success. In 2003-2004, Katya was hosted by California State University Bakersfield as a recipient of International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) fellowship, majoring in sociology. She has worked in the higher education sector across various universities in Australia and overseas for over ten years and published on a range of topics. In her current role with Learning Transformations, she leads on design, delivery and evaluation of projects studying the effects of technological interventions on teaching and learning, and has most recently written on such aspects of educational technology research as micro-credentialing with digital badges, MOOCs, mobile application for learning, and lecture-recording technology for personalisation of student learning




How to Cite

Pechenkina, E. (2017). Developing a typology of mobile apps in Higher Education: A national case-study. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 33(4).