Saturday, January 3, 2009

Undergraduate Students and Technology - Part 6

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

On page 14 of this report, after briefly discussing the Digital Divide, the authors launch into a discussion on Social Networking Sites, or SNSs. Based on the responses to their surveys “Overall, 85.2% of respondents are now using SNSs” (p14).

Although they had close to 100 institutions participating in the 2008 survey, there were only 44 institutions that had participated in the three years (p14). Of those, there was an increase in usage of 14% over 36 months (74.8% to 88.8%) and that daily usage is up 26%! (32.8% to 58.8%).

In the conclusion of the Executive Summary, the authors indicate that they “found a widespread attitude about IT resources – no matter how students thing about tem – are best situated in learning environments where technology is balanced with other learning activities, especially face-to-face interactions with faculty and students in the classroom.” (p16) This is not entirely surprising to me since I’d have to guess that the vast majority of the institutions surveyed were primarily traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. There is certainly a representation of students who have taken hybrid, blended, and even entirely online courses, but the statistics might be different if there were a few entirely online institutions represented.

If you are interested in having your institution participate in the 2009 survey, the URL for more information and the survey is

The Introduction is titled “Reshaping Campus Communications and Community through Social Network Sites”, was written by Nicole B. Ellison from Michigan State University, and begins on page 19.

On page 21 Ellison refers to an article from the New York Time, written by Brian Stelter and published on January 21st, 2008, which indicates that MySpace is the “largest SNS in the United States”. I don’t have the reference handy but I do remember recently hearing that Facebook has since surpassed that. If anyone knows where that information is (or if I can find it again), please go ahead and post it into the comments.

That’s all for now, more on this next time.

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