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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Undergrads and Information Technology

Check out this great infographic from the Educause Center for Applied Research.
ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012
You can check out the whole study here.

Some of the interesting findings include the fact that students see blended-learning courses as the norm now, and expect to be able to use web interfaces to access course information. Perhaps more interesting, though, is how students use technology. Students desired a separation between much of their social networking tools (texting, facebook) and their course-work and interactions with their teachers. While students may not want teachers intruding on these social spaces, it is essential to be able to reach them through the devices they are using most: mobile smartphones. Schools do seem to be making a good effort to meet the mobile needs of their students and should continue to follow the models that are available.

I think the biggest takeaway from this study, though, is about students' attitudes towards technology and tech skills. Large majorities viewed technical proficiency as very important for their futures. And while many said they received adequate training, a majority still sought better training from their instructors, and nearly half felt they entered college without thorough preparation for using technology. Students were much more concerned about gaining these types of training than in utilizing the most cutting-edge technologies in their classes. It is important, then, for schools to prioritize skill-building exercises and resources to introducing "newer" and "better" technologies.

I think this holds particular relevance for K-12 librarians who can be the bridge to provide the better technical skill-training that students are looking for in their preparation for college. Technology is clearly an area of engagement for students, who see "real-life" skills they desire. This engagement can serve as a tool for librarians to enhance their role in inter-disciplinary curriculum and instruction. I think this ECAR study is a great resource to use to convince administrators of the importance of technology instruction and enhancing the library's role in the school environment.

What stands out to you from these ECAR findings?

1 comment:

  1. This study, and the point you noted that students like to see separation between their school and social environments, reminds me of a discussion we had during the on-campus weekend about Facebook and the ways you can use it with your students. Seemed like we all understood that Facebook is "where kids are" right now, and that to get to them, we'd have to go there, too. However, this study suggests that students don't want us to intrude into that sphere of their lives. The question then, asks us how we reach students where they are, without turning them off by intruding into those social areas. In the public library, we have the ability to separate ourselves from school, and make the library a social place instead of only an educational one. I can imagine this challenge is much more difficult with teachers and the school library. Good post.