Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Myth of the Technosavvy College Student?

This is for my wife's my brother-in-law who loves looking at new technology, loves his IPhone, posts video on his blog, and Twitters constantly.

As a teacher, I'm required to attend instructional seminars where I often hear that "your students are more tech-savvy than you are," and learn ways to integrate technology into my classroom.

I'm requiring all my Principles of Macroeconomics and Personal Financial Planning sections to subscribe to various blogs related to the subject matter we cover. They'll end up writing some papers on the content. But, the past two days I had this experience in 4 sections:

Me: "How many of you already subscribe to blogs using a feed reader?"
Class: --blank stares, quizzical looks--
Me: "Okay, how many of you read blogs?"
Class: --blank stares except the one guy in the back who raises a hand (out of 35 students)--
Me: "Okay...well, how many of you use Twitter?...anybody?"
Class: --quizzical looks and blank stares-- One outspoken student says "Um, I know what it is, but I don't use it."

Audience is 19-22 year olds, some of which are Information Systems or Computer Science majors.

Last semester I had a similar experience when I gave an example of something I'd read about the online world Second Life. Even if you've never seen Second Life, you probably heard about it while watching The Office or various other TV shows that have mentioned it. But I couldn't find a single student that had heard of Second Life.

I've also had a large number of students who couldn't figure out how to change the margins and spacing on their Word documents. "The computer won't let me do it..." I had to find someone to help them. I've had several others complain because I posted Powerpoints created in MS Office 2008 (what's installed on all the machines on campus), and they just couldn't figure out how to read them with prior versions of Powerpoint.

So, in what ways are these college students more technosavvy than me? What do they do online that's creative? They're really good at Facebook, but what else?

When I was their age, we wrote web pages by hand using HTML, often only with Wordpad. For fun. And we liked it.


Keith Walters said...

That sounds like most of the kids I went to school with at UK if it is not a basic function on Facebook or something that a kindergartner could do with a cell phone then they can’t do it.

Michael said...

I agree all that us youngsters know how to do is use facebook. Unless we are into computer science a lot of us don't know that much. I am a liberal arts student trying to start a blog www.theliberalartist.com but I realized that I don't know much about blogs really so it is definitely a learning experience. Check out my site though, I am going to try and get people in the liberal arts to realize that this stuff is actually useful.