Students and Information Technology 2012 #edtech #eLearning #educause

ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012The Educause Centre for Applied Research (ECAR) has recently published their “ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012” report.

The report summary has the following key points and recommendations:

Key Findings

  • Blended-learning environments are the norm; students say that these environments best support how they learn.
  • Students want to access academic progress information and course material via their mobile devices, and institutions deliver.
  • Technology training and skill development for students is more important than new, more, or “better” technology.
  • Students use social networks for interacting with friends more than for academic communication.

ECAR Recommends

  • Look to emerging or established leaders (other institutions, other countries, other industries) for strategies to deliver instruction and curricular content to tablets and smartphones. Learn from their exemplary strategies for IT support and security with student devices as well as planning, funding, deploying, and managing instructional technologies, services, and support.
  • Prioritize the development of mobile-friendly resources and activities that students say are important: access to course websites and syllabi, course and learning management systems, and academic progress reports (i.e., grades).
  • Bridge the gap between the technologies that have seen the greatest growth (e-portfolios, e-books/e-textbooks, and web-based citation/bibliographic tools) and students’ attitudes about their importance. Focus training/skill-building opportunities for students, professional development opportunities for faculty, and support service opportunities on these emerging technologies.
  • Use e-mail and the course and learning management system for formal communication with students. Experiment with text messaging and instant messaging/online chatting, and don’t focus efforts on using social networks and telephone conversations to interact with students.
    (See the 2012 report for a full list key messages, findings, supporting data, and actionable results.)

While it’ll take some time to digest the report and it’s findings/recommendations, they have also produced this wonderful Infographic:

Infographic: ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012Click to view the complete Educause Infographic

Some figures from the Infographic:

  • eReader is only important to 31% or respondents, where as laptop (more important than desktop or tablet) is important to 85%.
  • Laptop ownership is up 83% form 2004.
  • Android smartphones are more widely used (only just) than iPhones (46% vs 44%).
  • Accessing courses from a mobile device is more important (66%) than checking grades (57%) or accessing library resources (26%).
  • 54% of students more actively involved in courses that use technology
  • 70% of students say they learn most in blended learning environments.
  • 55% of students wished their instructors used more simulation or educational games.
  • Only 16% of students skip class when lectures recorded and made available online.
  • 57% want to keep academic and social lives separate.
  • 29% of students want their instructors to use Facebook more, while 43% want SMS text messages and 53% want more face-to-face interaction.
  • I agree that these findings are similar to what would be found in the UK but you have to consider what prompts students to provide the responses they give. A few examples will hopefully explain what I mean.

    Students tend not to find the academic e-books particularly useful because many of them are just pdf files – there is no added value to them at all. Is it unusual that they would want to keep their social and their Uni life separate, I certainly do. There are ways to use social media which are useful to students and ways that are just a waste of time – many lecturers do not know how to use social media usefully – students do not want to waste time.

    I’m not saying Educause have it wrong, I’m just saying that you need to understand more about education, students and technology before you make any knee jerk decisions.

    • Thanks Karen. There is a much larger story to be told behind the headlines, and the data ought to support this? When dealing with any implementation of a new system or tool or way of working it needs careful consideration before (not afterwards) and there must be a reason for it that will benefit learning and not funding or status.

      All the best, David

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