a blog about technology management

ECAR student study for 2005 out

I just saw that the ECAR Study of Students and Information Technology, 2005: Convenience, Connection, Control, and Learning is out. While the full study weighs in at a hefty 140 pages, the Key Findings is a brisk 10 pages and is a must-read. A few points jumped out at me in the key findings:

  • “Students spend 11-15 hours / week using electronic devices” (not cell phones). That is a lot of time.
  • “Students view technology in the classroom as supplemental to their course experience, not as transformational.” I’m torn on this one. On the one hand as a technologist I want technology to be transformational. But on the other hand I am happy that students want the face-to-face interaction. I know that some faculty worry that all of these technologies are going to ruin education. But it seems clear that students know where knowledge and teaching come from and where learning happens, though they might not realize it.
  • “Most students have used a course management system (CMS), and most have had positive experiences.” This surprises me some as I tend only to hear about the negative experiences in my profession. I generally believe most have at least a neutral experience (not bad) now that we’ve moved to moodle. But a recent article in our student newspaper had a student saying they didn’t like having materials in the CMS because they had to use a computer to get at the materials. I guess there are always exceptions.
  • “According to responding students, IT is improving their learning. Students report that our institutions and our faculty are integrating IT inconsistently into courses.” They found that instructor IT skills had the largest positive impact on student engagement in the course. Here we have the challenge of instructional technologists. How do we help all of the faculty to consistently use IT effectively at some arbitrary level? In all honesty we’ll have plenty of work for the next decade or so. As more faculty come into the fold who have grown up with technology (and more retire), I believe we’ll see a shift in needs. I’m not sure I know what that shift will be. I often wonder if it will be a shift to more support for teaching skills. Learning how to teach isn’t so much part of the graduate experience as it once was. At least that’s my perception based on conversations with senior faculty.

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