The ‘Net Generation’ is Moderate about Technology — in the Classroom

By Tom Halligan

Students today are wired—and wireless—to the hilt when it comes to utilizing technology for both personal, social and academic endeavors. However, when it comes to the classroom, students aren’t so tech centric.

According to findings from the annual Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, students from both two- and four-year institutions “prefer a moderate level of technology in their courses.” The report authors conclude that the survey can’t zero in on exactly what “moderate” means to  today’s aptly named net generation because the definition of “moderate” could be relative to the degree of accepted advanced classroom technology today,  compared to students’ acceptance of classroom technology du jour, say, five years ago.

Yes, it is all relative. I can see that a 2007 student could live a healthy, productive life without Twitter, compared to a 2010 student who would rather die than forgo tweeting all day.  The study found that nine out of 10 respondents said they use text messaging and access social networking websites on a daily basis. No surprise there.  Regarding campus technology, the majority of students actively use the college library website and tap into learning (or course) management systems.

Fewer than one in five respondents said they were using course lecture podcasts or videos, and about the same percentage said they were using clickers or student response systems as well as instant messaging and graphics software.

On the flip side, students’ use of mobile internet and applications is on the rise and will continue to grow as internet access becomes embedded in more and more devices.

The questions I have noodles around the survey results that indicate students want a moderate level of technology in the classroom. Is that because they don’t know what glitzy and educational technology tools they are missing because their classrooms are traditional teacher-podium-lecture and chalkboard? Or, are students up to their ear buds with technology and the traditional classroom offers a sanctuary from technology (and often isolated) digital world? Or what?

What I like about the ECAR study and findings is its conclusion that “there is no stereotypical student when it comes to technology.” I am curious what others think about technology and its impact on students and classroom education.


About ccweekblogger

Covering All Things Community College
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