are students really as tech-savvy as we think?

By Alison Campbell 22/09/2011

Technology in its various manifestations looms ever larger in our lives – & that includes education. For example, many schools require their students to have laptops or – more recently – ipads. I’ve wondered previously whether this is done for a particular pedagogical reason, or whether it’s more a case of  “the technology’s there – let’s use it!”

All this does rather assume that students are fairly tech-savvy: something along the lines of “they’ve grown up with all this stuff, so of course they’ll know how to use it.” Yes?

Well, no. this was recently brought home to me as I went through the responses to a survey a couple of colleagues & I carried out recently, looking at student use of the lecture-capture technology Panopto. One of our questions asked how they viewed recorded lectures, & as prompts offered ‘computer’ and ‘i-pod/mp3 player’. (I put this one in because that’s often how I view them.)

Most of the students chose ‘computer’. Very few chose ‘i-pod’. And some commented plaintively that they would have used i-pods if they’d known that option was available. Now, there’s a link on the Panopto page for my class that gives the option of downloading recordings in mp3 (sound only) or mp4 format (lecture + pictures). I’d made the mistake of assuming that because a relative technological illiterate like me (hey, it doesn’t take much tech knowledge to blog!) knew what to do, my students would to.

So next semester, “show them how to access recordings” is high on the list of Things To Do on the first day of class :-)

Seriously, though, I think it’s important that teachers realise that students may not actually be all that familiar with some of the learning technologies that we expect them to make use of.

0 Responses to “are students really as tech-savvy as we think?”

  • True, I think most of them are competent users of the technology but it’s shallow knowledge. If the interface isn’t idiot proof or is unfamiliar then they become lost.
    The number of times I’ve been asked a question about something that the questioner person uses all the time but I’ve never seen before and I have to work it out for them is depressing.

    Call me curmudgeonly but I’m beginning to think that apple products are exacerbating rather than helping this situation.

  • Darcy, I’m not sure you’re old enough to be a curmudgeon. (I have this mental image of a curmudgeon being a somewhat elderly gentleman with side-whiskers & a stick that he thumps on the floor…)

    Lolz aside, the apple interface – on i-pad/pod/phone anyway; I haven’t used a Mac for ages – does let one do without actually thinking about it. Theoretically that should make the technology more accessible rather than less. But I guess it could also encourage people to think that there’s a one-step simple solution to every problem.

  • Yes it makes the technology itself more accessible, but only within prescribed limits. Ask people to do things outside of those boundaries and blank looks ensue.

    ps. Sounds like I need to get myself a stick.

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