This post was created by PGCert participants as part of their assessment for Unit 1 of the 2019/20 course. The brief was to choose two specific learning needs and evaluate technologies that could help students with these needs to learn more effectively.
Anxiety can be hard to manage, especially while studying in higher education. It is defined as a “subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry” which is strong enough to substantially hinder an individual’s daily activities and social life (Vitasari et al., 2010: 490). Fear of deadlines, presentations and being in a busy environment can take its toll. Anxiety can present itself in different ways and is very individual. You do not have to be diagnosed to suffer with anxiety. Experiencing symptoms and feeling anxious is universal.
Using digital technologies such as video recording can help to reduce anxiety within learning. Students should be provided with opportunities and active experiences, forming of activities and resources that allow them to construct their own experiences in line with theories or active learning (Aubrey and Riley, 2019). The option to pre-record a video for a crit or a tutorial could take away the ‘in the moment’ anxiety of presenting work.
Video recording could also help students who feel uncomfortable in large groups, as they could access their lectures in real time or catch up at a later date. Furthermore, having videos available of past students discussing their experience with anxiety could be beneficial for current students. This could present the opportunity to get advice but also feel that they are not alone and it does get better. This could prove important to reflective practice as the students would connect to these experiences and build up their own knowledge and development for the future (Aubrey and Riley, 2019).
Research into technology suggests that increased levels of anxiety can be caused by the use of complicated apps and extraneous technology. In fact, Brevio et al. suggest the idea of “technostress”, a “negative psychological state associated with the use or the “threat” to use new technologies,” which leads to “anxiety, mental fatigue, skepticism, and sense of ineffectiveness” (Brivio et al. 2018). Introducing such digital technologies could therefore exacerbate existing levels of anxiety in some students, rather than reducing them.
To help with these potential added anxieties, teachers guide students in collaboratively constructing the activities (Anderson & Dron, 2011). Having active practice between teacher and student to give guidance at a suitable level will hopefully present successful learning, which once confidence has been achieved the student will be able to continue without assistance (Aubrey & Riley, 2019). Overall, this process represents a neat way to align learning theories of active learning and social constructivism with appropriate use of technology.
Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three Generations of Distance Education Pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 12(3), 80–97.
Aubrey, K., & Riley, A. (2019). Understanding and Using Educational Theories (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
Brivio E., Gaudioso F. Vergine I., Mirizzi C.R. , Reina C., Stellari A. and Galimberti C. Preventing Technostress Through Positive Technology, Milan, Italy, Front. Psychol., 17 December 2018 |https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02569
Vitasari, P. et al. (2010) ‘The Relationship between Study Anxiety and Academic Performance among Engineering Students’, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 8, pp. 490–497. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.067.