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Students’ Computer Patterns

December 7, 2005

Here is a current, brief, informative interview with Robert Kvavik on how students are using computers, and their attitudes towards how computers are being used in education. Mitchell Weisburgh quotes Kvavik as saying –

It’s not that tech doesn’t affect learning, it’s that we are only at the beginning of seeing how tech can be used in support of that goal.

I think he makes a truly important observation here –

One of the interesting things with Google is when you ask a question, you always get an answer. But you don’t know if it’s a good answer. So how do you show students how to sort that and digest it so they can tell the difference?

One of the things is that these students have more and quicker access to information than our generation did, but there would be a great benefit to learning how to winnow it out and apply it in a sophisticated way to a problem.

All teachers in all classes should be modelling and teaching how to evaluate the information found on the web, in my opinion, as a part of learning the content of courses.
On course management systems, Kvavik has this to say about student attitudes:

To the extent the faculty uses the CMS so that students can take sample tests, access readings, contact the professor, and submit assignments; the CMS has made it easier for the students. The biggest complaint is that the use is not consistent, it’s only used in about 20% of the classes in a lot of the institutions. Why in one university, would the Poli Sci dept decide not to use the CMS at all while the history dept is 90% using it? Students do not like the inconsistency.

Altogether an interesting read – I recommend it.

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