Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Contradictions in Oblinger & Oblinger

Chapter 7 of the Educating the Net Generation by Diana C. Oblinger & James. L. Oblinger presents some very interesting results from a major survey of undergrad students in the US (4,374 students from 13 institutions in five states - 2004).

Surprisingly though, the results more or less contradict the major themes of the book: the notion that this generation has "unprecendented levels of skills with information technology; that they take technology for granted, that they want more of it in their classes, that postsecondary institutions aren't responding fast enough to meet their needs.

Well, here's what this survey found:

- these students have basic office suite skills and can use email and surf the Internet with ease but "moving beyond basic activities is problematic. It appears they do not recognize the enhanced functionality of the applications they own and use." (p. 7.7)

- they only have a moderate preference for the use of technology in their classes

- there is a need for "significant further training in the use of information technology in support of learning and problem-solving skills." (p. 7.17)

- "students appear to be slower developing adequate skills in using information technology in support of their academic activities which limits technology's current value to the instititution." (p. 7.17)

The study concludes that the effects of learning technology are "largely in the convenience of postsecondary teaching and learning and do not yet constitute a 'learning revolution'" (p. 7.18)

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