The 2005 Educause study of students and technology has similar findings as last year’s. Technology used in the classroom is valued first for convenience; students are much less likely to find it improves learning. They want it used, but in moderation. Online syllabi and course readings are highly regarded because hey, it’s convenient. But when it comes to student engagement with the course material? Technology is a wash.
Some interesting findings: students report using computers only 11-15 hours a week, with searching library databases at less than an hour (though it may be hard for them to know that’s what they’re doing, depending on how they get there). More students report using library resources to complete an assignment (88%) than to download music (75%) though nearly all students “surf” the web to support their coursework. By the way, the self-reported use of the library is up a bit from last year.
The author suggests technological fluency is necessary before students can become information literate and ends by recommending that schools should establish technology competency levels and build them into the curriculum. This, to me, seems far less important than doing the same for information literacy – particularly since the skill levels for basic computer use seem far more in place already than the ability to engage with ideas and articulate good questions, to read critically, to evaluate sources of information, and to use them well. Those skills, it seems to me, are also far more durable.
Since students no longer see “technology” as a separate category, but just a ubiquitious part of their lives, maybe we should do the same and think more about learning and less about the tools.
An addendum: Steven and I must have been blogging at the same time about the same report, and he beat me to it. Sorry for the double vision, folks. He has the advantage of living a time zone ahead of me.