Friday, October 11, 2013

ECAR 2013 UG Study Report

The ECAR - Educause Center for Analysis and Research 2013 Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology REPORT came out in September. I always appreciate the insights and perspective it provides on technology trends, ownership, and how students evaluate both their and their instructors' use of technology. The numbers are impressive. Of the 1.6 million students solicited across 251 college/university sites, 113,035 responded from over 13 countries.

In discussions I have had with educators and teacher candidates, a recurrent concern has been that their students often have greater experience using technology -  the digital native vs. digital immigrant argument.  My response has been that though this may be the case, students tend not to know how to use the tools for learning, and that our role as educators can be to provide perspective and help develop their digital literacy skills, or 4C's: Critical Thinking & problem solving, Communication, Collaboration,  and Creativity and Innovation [see: Partnerships for 21st Century Skills].

The forward in the ECAR report supports this noting that, after 10 years of conducting the study, trends show that students are slow to adapt to new technologies and practices, and that there is a disconnect between the technologies they use and the practical application of these tools [particularly in academics]. The report goes on to say, "Doing more to facilitate use of technology in creative and meaningful ways--ways that encourage and support the use of technolog for academics--is something that each of us has a certain level of responsibility for to improve students' technology experiences" p. 3.
Other highlights from the report are that students:
  • have a complex relationship with technology
  • prefer a blended modality and are also starting to explore MOOCs
  • are ready and wanting encouragement from instructors to use mobile devices for academics
  • value privacy preferring to keep personal and academic technology uses separate, and to use email, CMS or F2F for communicating with instructors

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