Technology in the Classroom Survey

A recent Chronicle of Higher Ed article on technology has me thinking….

In the CHE article Tools That College Students Wish Their Instructors Used Either More or Less, 2013 they report on a survey on the topic of the very long title. The results have prompted some questions, but first some concerns about the survey:

  • The option of ‘same’ is confusing as we don’t know what current practice is.  Even ‘more’ and ‘less’ without a basis, is difficult to interpret. It would be more meaningful if the results were measured in frequency of use, or in amount of time used (as a percentage of class time). I suspect the intent is that we interpret ‘more’ as they like it, ‘less’ as they don’t, and ‘same’ as undecided.
  • Some of the areas are relevant to the entire course (e-book or not, LMS or not, capture or not), and some are for the day-to-day activities (integrated laptop, cellphone, tablet use), so it seems unreasonable to have them on the same chart. It also makes me wonder what basis a student used to answer the survey. For example for the LMS question, would a student interpret it as more classes using the LMS, or a particular class using the LMS more?
  • The type of use of each kind of technology probably also makes a big difference, but is probably beyond the scope of this survey. (This may be the most important thought, as using technology works when it is used where it provides a real advantage; if it is just a fancy update to something that can be done the same or better by non-high tech means, then it really should be used less).

Now, my questions/thoughts:

  • Why is cellphone and tablet use wanted less, compared to laptops? (Want Less Usage: 30.8%, 28.4%, 18.4% respectively) I’d think that laptops and tablets would score about the same as they would/could be used similarly, while cellphones probably are used as clicker substitutes and the results may be a comment on clicker use in general. It could be an issue of wrong use of technology, like using a cellphone to read material or take online quizzes, or using a tablet to take extensive notes. Or it could be a matter of choice, where students have to use a certain personal or class device, and they just aren’t comfortable with it. If its a BYOD class and the material supports all types of devices, would students disfavor the use of any of the technology as high?
  • Why all the hate for e-books? (Okay not really hate, but not a lot of love: Want More: 47.1%, Same: 25.3%)  e-books typically cost less (but not as much less as you’d think, plus there’s no resale market, so the net price is probably higher), are easier to port around (assuming one has a smart phone, laptop, e-reader, etc.), can be searched, and usually have extra interactive features, so they seem better than regular books. Plus, at least from a math perspective, most students use the book primarily for the homework problems (with examples probably second), and e-books make it somewhat easier to do this.  I know there is personal preference, but I wonder if students just aren’t used to or comfortable enough with using e-books to really take advantage of them, but I really don’t know.
  • And finally, looking at the big picture, as students are big users of technology in general, have they basically separated their lives into academic and non-academic parts, and then separated their use and preference for technology into ‘more’ for non-academic and ‘less’ for academic? A student might text and tweet prolifically outside of class, but not want to do either for a class.  A student might spend lots of time online reading webpages, chatting with friends, updating facebook and pinterest pages, etc., but have no interest in reading or creating course material online. Will this change as more K-12 schools are adopting technology for daily classroom use?



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