Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Student use of ICT

I do some posting to the Information Literacy meets Library 2.0 blog, but Peter Godwin does more. He was first to pick up on the report produced by MORI on behalf of JISC: Great expectations of ICT: How Higher Education institutions are measuring up, published on 12 June 2008. "JISC commissioned Ipsos MORI to undertake research among first year students studying in higher education to: 1) Understand first year students’ experiences of ICT use and provision in HEIs, particularly in light of the expectations which emerged from the first study in June 2007 and 2) Examine whether there is a mismatch between expectations and reality." The researchers did just over 1000 online interviews (partly with people that they'd interviewed for an earlier study on pre-university expectations) . There were also four focus groups.

As an educator, one of the bits I found most interesting was "Face-to-face interaction is still seen as the best form of teaching [by those surveyed]. However, the use of ICT in teaching is now perceived to be a good thing, but only as long as it is done well. Face to face interaction supported by inefficient or inept use of technology is worse than using none. In the groups, a minority had had difficulties, but for most, their teachers have a good enough level of knowledge to use ICT." (p10) This is sensible, and chimes in with feedback from students (and I don't think it is just about students expecting lecture-formats: the personal approach seems important to people, which is not really surprising).

The feedback from students on using social networking sites also chimes in with discussions from the sessions Lyn Parker and I have run here at Sheffield: i.e. that students are more comfortable on using them informally, amongst themselves, to support study (rather than having them set up as a formal part of learning.

There is also some discussion of information content "Students tend to head to the internet as a first port of call for academic research, and predominantly use generic search engines such as Google, but are then likely to check the information they find against other sources such as the library. Some mention Wikipedia as a starting point although again they double check this against references given. The vast majority (69%) like to check the validity of the information they take from the internet" (p34). Hmm. Not sure 69% counts as a "vast majority". To me this survey also says that talking about "ICT" as a thing in itself is too generalised nowadays - student reactions and expectations to applications and support are more complex.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Agapanthus seed head, Hobart, June 2008.

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