Friday, December 19, 2008

Undergraduate Students and Technology - Part 4

Continuing commentary and opinions on content of The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008.

Still in the Executive Summary section,
“A much never mode of communication, social networking, has become nearly ubiquitous as well: 85.2% of respondents use SNSs (Primarily Facebook), and most do so on a daily basis to keep in touch with others. Text messaging (used by 83.6%) and instant messaging (IM) (used by 73.8%) are immensely popular, especially among younger students. More than one-third of respondents are also interactive on the Internet by contributing content to blogs, wikis, and photo or video websites.” (11)

I don’t have much to say about this, but I thought it was interesting. From time to time I may just pop out there a quote I underlined, even though I have no real commentary to add to it.

A reminder that the n on this was 27,317 from ninety-eight institutions, consisting of only Freshman and Seniors, as identified by the institution.

Another note I found interesting in this section was that “the emerging online virtual worlds (such as Second Life) are already being used by about 1 in 11 respondents (8.8%).” (p11) Over 8%? Almost 9%? Nearly 1 in 10 students are already using Second Life? Really? That just seems like a huge number to me, especially given the conversations I’m used to seeing on the Second Life Educators (SLED) list. To find archives and sign up for the SLED list, go here:

To find out more about SL’s commitment to Education, go here:

“Although respondents are generally enthusiastic about IT, most say they prefer only a “moderate” amount of IT in their courses (59.3%).” (p11). I do not find this surprising in some way and in other ways I do. I guess students don’t see computers or email or other standard technology as technology and what they DO consider technology, they use for fun (or social reasons) and they don’t want to do work with a social tool.

“Of special note is that although few respondents (4.2%) used podcasts this quarter/semester, student comments from focus groups and from the survey were extremely positive about podcasts as a supplemental tool for courses. This mimics last year’s finding. ECAR also asked students if they liked to learn using specific types of technologies. The most frequently cited item was running Internet searches (80.2%). More than one-third of respondents (44.3%) say they like to learn through text-based conversations over e-mail, IM , and text messaging or by contributing to websites, blogs, or wikis (35.5%). Interestingly, a solid half (50.8%) like to learn through programs they can control, such as video games or simulations. This is important in the context of discussion about digital game-based learning in higher education and whether the extent of learning justifies the resources required to implement a game.” (p12). From this they also have a footnote, referencing VanEck’s EDUCAUSE Review article “Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless”, which can be found at

The Internet searches answer doesn’t surprise me at all – this is how students find content for their papers. I often wonder how genuine they are when they say they didn’t realize they’d copied and pasted something from the Internet right into their paper.

Ok – that a subject all by itself, I’ll have to cover that next time.

1 comment:

Concerned Parent & Educator said...

What I find interesting, at least from an anecdotal perspective, is how many undergrads do not think of themselves as tech savvy. Yet they say this as they post their photo's taken with their iphone to facebook, tag the people in the photo and then provide commentary on the happenings in the photo. This belongs in the Arsenio Hall of Fame under "things that make you go hmm"

My only explanation for this irony is that they cannot figure out our technology - PowerPoint and e-mail- so they automatically have a low tech esteem.