Student acceptance of handheld devices in higher education

Song Yanjie and Robert Fox
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Handheld devices have been increasingly trialled in various research projects in higher education. However, in general, their use has not been sustainable and transferable, and so it is important to understand the factors that facilitate handheld device use in higher education.

This paper outlines the findings of longitudinal multiple-case studies which were carried out to examine student acceptance of handheld devices in a university. The project was based on the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis 1989) which proposes that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are important factors in determining the users' intentions to employ the new technology. The research results indicate that (a) students' perceived usefulness of a handheld device has a key effect on their intention to use it; (b) contextual factors such as its purpose, and when and where to use it, were the dominant factors that influenced the perceived usefulness of the handheld device; and (c) students' perceived ease of use did not have an important effect on their intention to use it.

These findings indicate that, with the development of technology and changes in learning environments and society, the factors that influence student technology adoption are changing. An Extended Technology Acceptance Model (ETAM) was developed to illustrate factors that affect the adoption of handheld devices in higher education. Although this model needs further validation through large-scale empirical research, it is expected that it will shed light on future handheld device research studies that should involve contextual factors for handheld uses instead of placing emphasis solely on studying handheld technology usefulness or ease of use.