Understanding my target learners

Understanding the prior experiences and pre/conceptions of the learners that I work with is an integral part of every educational technology project plan. This is usually achieved through conducting an initial survey of the project participants, and I also encourage participants to create and maintain a reflective blog throughout the project, and embed video reflections on their experiences at critical stages of each project. This provides me with the opportunity to give informed feedback to the participants, as well as facilitating a rich form of reflective learning for the participants.

Examples of typical pre project survey results are linked here from Surveymonkey:

Surveymonkey provides a quick way to create and share a well formatted survey accessible via almost any internet capable device. For quick in class or in presentation Polls I use Polleverywhere to gather participant feedback. For example:

  • Student BYOD Poll

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Below I provide a selection of video reflections covering a range of projects from 2009 to 2015 as examples of reflections from participants of various educational technology projects I have led.

Maori TV interview 2009

In this project review students and lecturers provide feedback on the impact of the project on their learning and practice. This feedback then informs the design of subsequent iterations of these projects (Cochrane & Bateman, 2009;2011).

ALTC Interview 2011

In this short interview I reflect on some of the key issues I encounter with the adoption of educational technology among lecturers (Cochrane & Narayan, 2011).

Product design student reflections 2013

In this student presentation, students critically reflect upon the impact of technology on the future of education, based upon their project experiences (Cochrane & Withell, 2013).

AUTMSM elective student reflections 2014

This series of student reflections provided valuable feedback upon a project within an elective Graphic Design paper in 2014 (Cochrane & Antonczak, 2015).

Disruptivebytes 2015

In this workshop style presentation I used Polls and QR codes as well as face-to-face questioning to gather feedback from the participants. Providing my presentation notes and media via live online networks enabled participants to personalise the pace at which they followed the session and for later review (Cochrane, 2015).


In discussing student technology usage with lecturers I often discover that assumptions are made regarding the ownership and preferences of students towards educational technology that are misplaced. The simplest solution is to ask students at the start of a project what devices they own and what their prior experiences with educational technology have been. The use of simple Poll or Survey tools provides effective feedback from students and enables the lecturer to establish a lowest common denominator without jumping to assumptions – just because students do not bring a device to class does not mean that they do not own devices or prefer not to use them in class – it is more often than not that there is simply no need when the lecturer defaults to a content-delivery style lecture using presentation software such as PowerPoint. In order to engage students with educational technology lecturers need to model the educational use of these tools in their own practice. This is one of the critical success factors that I have identified over multiple projects (Cochrane, 2014). Another key is keeping up to date with studies that evaluate student preferences and practices from organisations such as ECAR (Dahlstrom et al., 2015), OECD (2015) and JISC (Beetham & White, 2014). These reports provide valuable insights into today’s students’ preferences and practices.


Beetham, Helen, & White, David. (2014). Students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment (Vol. Executive summary). Bristol, UK.

Cochrane, Thomas. (2015). #disruptivebytes: Mlearning with thom cochrane. Disruptivebytes  Retrieved 15 September, from http://dmll.org.uk/disruptivebytes/think-different-with-mobile-learning/

Cochrane, Thomas, & Antonczak, Laurent. (2015). Designing creative learning environments. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal – IxD&A, N.24(Special issue on: Peer-to-Peer Exchange and the Sharing Economy: Analysis, Designs, and Implications), 125-144.

Cochrane, Thomas. (2014). Critical success factors for transforming pedagogy with mobile web 2.0. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(1), 65-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01384.x

Cochrane, Thomas, & Withell, Andrew. (2013). Augmenting design education with mobile social media: A transferable framework. Journal of the NUS teaching academy (JNUSTA), 3(4), 150-168.

Cochrane, Thomas, & Narayan, Vickel. (2011). Defrosting professional development: Reconceptualising teaching using social learning technologies. In D. Hawkridge, K. Ng & S. Verjans (Eds.), Proceedings of alt-c 2011 – thriving in a colder and more challenging climate: The 18th international conference of the association for learning technology (pp. 158-169). University of Leeds, UK: ALT Association for Learning Technology.

Cochrane, Thomas, & Bateman, Roger. (2011). Transforming pedagogy using mobile web 2.0. In D. Parsons (Ed.), Combining e-learning and m-learning: New applications of blended educational resources (pp. 281-307). Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global.

Cochrane, Thomas, & Bateman, Roger. (2009). Transforming pedagogy using mobile web 2.0. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(4), 56-83. doi: 10.4018/jmbl.2009090804

Dahlstrom, Eden, Brooks, Christopher, Grajek, Susan, & Reeves, Jamie. (2015). Ecar study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2015 (pp. 47). Louisville, Colorado: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research.

Maori Television (Producer). (2010). Wireless mobile device learning. 411 Series 2. [Television show] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vGNWMwEypY

OECD. (2015). Students, computers and learning. rue André-Pascal, 75775 PARIS: PISA, OECD Publishing.