The data reflected that the students shared some demographic commonalities: most of the students were 18-20 years old; about 70% graduated from Secondary Six of the New Senior Secondary Academic Structure; over 90% claimed that their most fluent language was Chinese/Cantonese in writing/speaking; each of them was equipped with 1.82 mobile devices on average; over 60% used Android as the operating system of their mobile devices; and about 80% of the students use a 3G/4G mobile network, among which 71% used an unlimited data plan.
Search engines, video search sites and WhatsApp were the most popular communication media among the disciplines, with 89%, 65% and 59% popularity recorded, respectively. Frequent use of Facebook (70%) was reported for communication, but it was not equally important in learning (39%).
Yet some differences among disciplines were found: use of forums in learning was popular in the Engineering and Information Technology disciplines only; email was important for Business Administration, Design and Hotel and Service & Tourism Studies, but it was not so important for students in other disciplines.
Students’ learning styles were analyzed with Fleming’s VARK model, the acronym of which stands for ‘visual’, ‘aural’, ‘read/write’ and ‘kinesthetic’. The combinations of the VARK are classified as ‘single preference’, ‘bimodal’, ‘trimodal’, ‘multi-modal type one’, ‘multi-modal type two’ and ‘multi-modal transition’. A chi-square test was performed to investigate whether convincing evidence could be found in differences of VARK profiles among the seven disciplines. Significant differences in the distribution of VARK profiles of students among the disciplines were found: X² (84, N = 2514 ) = 130.6, p = 0.001 (< 0.05]. Significant contributors to the differences were VA (BA), VA and VK (CECS), VK (DE), K (ENG), VK (HoSTs) and K(IT).
In the interviews, the students reported their habit of using social media to aid in learning, such as in the discussion of projects, file sharing, dictionary use and information searches. Interactive lessons such as tutorials, workshops and laboratory exercises were more welcome than one-way dissemination of knowledge.