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Keywords:

  • Digital natives;
  • net generation;
  • technology;
  • students

Abstract

Previously assumed to be a homogenous and highly skilled group with respect to information and communications technology, the so-called Net Generation has instead been shown to possess a diverse range of technology skills and preferences. To better understand this diversity, we subjected data from 2096 students aged between 17 and 26 from three Australian universities to a cluster analysis. Through this analysis, we identified four distinct types of technology users: power users (14% of sample), ordinary users (27%), irregular users (14%) and basic users (45%). A series of exploratory chi-square analyses revealed significant associations between the different types of technology users and the university that students attended, their gender and age and whether the student was local or international. No associations were found for analyses related discipline area, socio-economic status or rurality of residence. The findings are discussed in light of the rhetoric associated with commentaries about the Net Generation, and suggestions about their implications for teaching and learning in universities are offered.