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

October 8, 2017

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.

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology