Week 13 14:1b – Readings

reading: Salaway et al (2008) ‘The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology’.

“EDUCAUSE mission…intelligent use of information technology”

In this document’s Forward section, it highlightes the finding that 85% of respondents use Social Networking Sites (SNSs) like facebook. These students tend to prefer commincating with peers rather than with tutors. Also studentsreport a positive experience when using course managment systems whereas they are critical of their tutor’s ability to use IT effectively in courses.

The report is extensive so concentrate in particular on the executive summary in Chapter 1, which will give you a good overview of the substantive findings.Skim through the remainder of the report and make notes on:

1. the scope of the study

“To better understand undergraduates’ experiences with IT and how they are evolving. The purpose of the study is threefold:

  1. To provide information on the technology behaviors, preferences, and attitudes of higher education’s undergraduates, especially as it relates to their academic experience.
  2. To provide information to college and unversity administrators that will help them implement campus technology environments for students.
  3. To inform the practices of teaching faculty who are working to incorporate IT in rich and meaningful ways into their curricula and pedagogies.” pg 9

2. the research questions the authors focused on

“…survey queries undergraduates about their use of, and skill with, technologies and their perceptions about the impact of IT on their academic experience”

“…focus area topic about SNSs”

3. the methods used to capture the data

multipart approach;

  • literature review and review of other relevant surveys;
  • quatitative web-based survey of students
  • qualitative data through student focus groups
  • analysis of qualitative data from open-ended survey question
  • comparision of longitudinal data collected in 2006,08, 09 surveys.

4.the overarching findings.


  • increase in laptop ownership
  • increasing access to internet through hand held devices

Computer & Internet activities

  • 85.2% use SNSs (bit more than SMS and IM !)
  • 1/3 of students are interactive on the net through use of blogs, wikis etc.
  • Students actively involved in use of multimedia authoring software.
  • 1/3 of students use interactive online multiuser  games

IT Skills & Internet literacy

  • students have perception that they have good IT skills. This is quesionable because there is a potential gap between actual and perceived skills and literacy.

IT in courses

  • although generally enthusiastic about IT, students prefer a moderate amount of IT in their courses.
  • technology is becoming increasingly integrated into the lives of students of all ages.
  • Major undertaken by the student will reflect on what applications are being used.
  • from student perspective, there is room for improvement in the performance of most campus IT infrastructures & services.

Instructure use of IT in courses

Impact of IT in courses

  • Convenience is the most valued benefit of IT in courses.
  • students who are positive about the impact of IT are more likely to say that their instructors use IT effectively.

Digital Divide

one-size-fits-all strategy for teaching and learning  may not be as effective as one that explicitly factors in the differences between high tech and low tech groups.

Social Networking sites

  • In SNSs younger students are more active.
  • Half of SNS users (in college and univ) have integrated SNSs into their academic life as a mechanism for communicating with classmates about course-related topics.

SNS privacy and security

reading:  Kennedy et al. (2006) ‘Questioning the net generation: a collaborative project in Australian higher education’.

1. the scope of the study

Scope is to “investigate this proposed gap between learners’ and teachers’ use of technologies and identify the implications for higher education.”

2. the research questions the authors focused on

“how well we know our students and how we can ensure we meet their real needs and not what we imagine they might need. They also ask us to consider the characteristics, habits and demands of the Net Generation and encourage us to respond to their expectations. This project directly targets these issues and takes a critical approach to them.”

“Within this context, the aims of our study were straightforward. The first was to empirically document the degree to which incoming first year students at a large Australian metropolitan university access and use an array of technologies and technology based tools. In addition to the more entrenched technologies that have typically been the focus of this type of investigation (e.g. basic computer skills, email), this study also focussed on how students use a range of more recent or emerging, technology based tools (including social networking, blogs, wikis, RSS, VoIP, and podcasting).

The second aim was to determine the degree to which students themselves report wanting to use particular technologies to support their studies at university. Finally, given an implicit assumption, often made in commentaries on the Digital Natives, that because students are using particular technologies in their everyday lives they want to use them in their studies, we sought to investigate this empirically with a small group of emerging technologies. The final aim, therefore, was to determine whether the extent to which students use technology in their everyday lives is related to their preferences for their use at university.”

3. the methods used to capture the data

Data collection through questionnaire to students (first year students born after 1980). Asked students about their access to, use of, skills with, and preferences for an array of established and emerging technologies and technology based tools.

4. the overarching findings.

A moderate to high proportion of students have unrestricted access to desktop computers, mobiles, memory sticks and MP3 players. (see doc for percentages)

Students are relying on computers for creating digital documents and for general study purposes. Many students are familiar with creating or editing digital images   and familiar with multimedia presentations.

Half the students in the sample had used a computer to create a web page, but perhaps surprisingly, half had never done this.

A large proportion of students are using their computer to listen to music daily or weekly (84.0%)

While there are clearly student ‘gamers’, 38.5% of students have not used a games console in the last year.

Majority of students are relying heavily on their mobile phones to call and text people

only 23.8% of incoming students are engaging in social networking daily or weekly; while 62.9% of students have never logged on.

for a number of activities, the proportion of students who have never used a particular technology based tool outstripped those who had (e.g. create a website, keep a blog, web conference, use social networking software, use RSS feeds, use a mobile phone to access the web).

The results of this study highlight the lack of homogeneity in the incoming first year student population with regards to technology and a potential ‘digital divide’ between students within a cohort of a single year level.

a. How does the study compare with the ECAR study?

methods used in Salaway use a combination of qulaitative and quantitative methods whereas this one uses a quantitative questionner. Surely Salaway’s method gives a clearer picture.

b. Are similar findings emerging? Are there any differences in what is being reported for students in the USA compared with those in Australia?

1c – Discussion
Kennedy (2006) in his discussion says that “the transfer from a social or entertainment technology (a living technology) to a learning technology is neither automatic nor guaranteed.” This highlights an important theme that has emerged in the two studies were it is true that there is a high percentage of students who have access and know how of the main stream technology but at the same time this does not imply that their adoption in an educational setting will imply success. Also the two studies show that there are ‘early adopters’ of emerging technologies. Such technologies can be fruitful in an educational context but they should not be a substitute to other forms.
Jonathon Campbell 2 writes:  perhaps students need to be allowed to approach the content from whatever way suits them.
I agree with this and as has been said in previous activities, a blended approach is the most viable. obviously this blended approach should be in a constant evolvment so that new viable forms of technologies can be taken onboard.


2 thoughts on “Week 13 14:1b – Readings

  1. “Jonathon Campbell 2 writes: perhaps students need to be allowed to approach the content from whatever way suits them.
    I agree with this and as has been said in previous activities, a blended approach is the most viable. obviously this blended approach should be in a constant evolvment so that new viable forms of technologies can be taken onboard.”

    I agree with both of you and I really like your last sentence – I just worry about the implications! At the OU, the time it takes to develop and launch a new course can be rather long and trying to keep up with constant change very challenging. I’ve been wondering how this course, H800, will change between this presentation and next year’s and which strategies the course team is employing to factor updates in.


  2. Well from my seven year’s experience in education I have seen a constant change in for example the Computer Science syllabus. Even government and agency policies seem to change every time there is an election or when new person take leading roles. So in an online environment I believe that this constant change is imperative. …hopefully when I’m older I’ll still have the energy to face new changes (and thus challenges).

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