Thursday, June 05, 2008

students, technology, evolution

Guess, A. (2007, Sept. 17). Students' 'evolving' use of technology. Inside Higher Ed. Accessed 6-08.

I missed this when it came out; it's an article about a report on students and how they feel about the technology in their life. Maybe it's just as well, because what I really find jarring is the comments. Let's start with the report itself, put out by Educause Center for Applied Research:

-60.9% of students believe technology improves their learning;
-73.7% of students have laptops, but over half don't bring them to class;
-average of 18 hrs/wk on computer, but 6.6%, mostly males, spend over 40 hrs/wk online;
-rise of Facebook, use of all modes, email, chat, & text, but, "students may 'want to protect these tools' personal nature'" and may not want them used in classes. This I found important- it expresses something I'd observed but hadn't put into words.
-40% say they are more engaged in courses with IT components; 20% disagree; the rest didn't say either way

other various findings, all interesting; I encourage you to explore. But here are some comments.

As a student, I’m incredibly skeptical of any claims of technology improving learning. I’ve been told repeatedly that laptops in class are the future of learning, and then that every student should have a tablet PC. I’ve seen massive amount of research being put into an elaborate in-class collaboration system that mirrors the professor’s Powerpoint presentation on the class’s tablets. I’ve seen professors use in-class commenting systems in which students submit questions to them online. It all sounds nice, at least from an administrative point of view, but I don’t believe it for a second. We all know what students really do when they bring their laptops to class. Throwing a tablet in there is of questionable value, yet adds another expense to the already massive cost of tuition. There’s research that shows Powerpoint presentations are very inefficient ways of presenting information, and I’ve been dissatisfied with every class I’ve had in which it was the main tool of the lecturer. And as for the online comment system, why not just take questions in, you know, real life? Technology has its uses in academia, but every single use of it in the classroom I’ve seen so far is either the administration wanting to give the university another selling point ("we have TECHNOLOGY!"), or a way for the professor to technically do his or her job without expending much effort. -Matt

As best I can tell, the most popular and successful professors are still those whose teaching style is simple, direct, and enlightening. A classroom of plugged-in 20-year-olds will sit mesmerized by a good teacher, without any need for bells and whistles. -Thomas

Beware of technology for technology’s sake. Those technologies that add to the teachers workload and the students distraction level while delivering no tangible benefits are best avoided. Those technologies that add fluff and “presentation” while adding no additional learning experience serve only to reinforce the belief that apperance matters more than substance. -Ateacher

Computer-based multimedia course content can address multiple learning styles simultaneously, and is far more engaging and valuable to the students of today (particularly students with disabilities) than the traditional one-dimensional “chalk and talk” presentations of computer-illiterate faculty. -Paul Kopco

This “educational technology” (in reality the correct term is “equipment") is useful in my case because it *is* the curriculum. Under no circumstance would I ever advocate another teacher or school administrator arbitrarily “addding more technology” to their lessons or lectures....In years of hunting, I have not found a single solid non-commercial source of research suggesting that so-called “educational technology” is anything more than misplaced technological enthusiasm and a genuine wish by its advocates that simply adding gadgetry and high-tech buffoonery somehow magically improves a student’s ability to learn. This is utter nonsense and nothing more than a laughable myth perpetuated by ed-tech pundits and their deep-pocketed market sponsors. -Christopher Davidson

As an employee in a liberal arts college and as someone who went to a larger research-oriented university (and not being that old at 28), I question the need to go all out with IT in the classroom. I have been called an “old fart” by co-workers (in a joking manner), but I know what students do when they have class in a computer lab (my office, the Helpdesk, has a window into one of them). They read email, look at Facebook, and chat on AIM. While some might be thinking of a way to use this in the classroom to the benefit of the class, as the article said, the students want this stuff for themselves, not for class. College is about more than just classes and this other technology (social networking, instant messaging, etc) is stuff the students use to keep in touch with friends and don’t want an invasion by their professors into their social life...The best class has something for everyone and every style of learning. While this is difficult with certain types of classes, the more learning styles it reaches, the more students can get out of it. However, just because students are using technology in such different manners in their lives should not automatically mean that professors and colleges should adjust their curriculum. Much of the use of technology is simply to keep in touch with their friends and enhance their social lives. I have about 60 students that work for me and I don’t know any of them who would really use these types of technologies in their classes. Aside from Facebook, email, AIM, and writing papers and doing a little research, most of the students I know don’t really care about technology. -Jim Rizzo

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home