Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Final report from Online Educa

Phew...marathon end to the conference as I chaired a couple of sessions on the last afternoon. All that and the journey back made it tricky to update the blog, so apologies for the delay. I also, put away the recorder and left the podcasting to the official service this year once it got started. No point in trying to nab many of the same people for interview, even when I did get the chance.

There were lots of interesting conversations taking place about issues around higher education pedagogy and not just the technologies. Indeed, the role of the teacher and expectations of students were key themes. Some interesting comments from participants working in a number of universities that had undertaken local surveys included: (a) whilst most new students have a PC (usually a laptop, with the % ownership in the UK, for example, being 95%) many of them don't plan on carrying it around with them everywhere even when their university provides near-ubiquitous wifi - so there's still a demand for the provision of well-equipped, open access computer labs; (b) whilst many students are well aware of a range of technologies and have been exposed to them in school or in their social lives, that awareness shouldn't be interpreted as meaning high levels of confidence; (c) whilst they have used word-processors and spreadsheets to some extent in their schooling prior to university, presentation software such as PowerPoint which is used extensively at university is not something that many students have actually used before; (d) there are mixed views on  the merits of using social networking software, with most students prefering to keep personal lives quite separate from their formal education.

Anyway, that's a quick summary of the remaining points. The official website will in due course be populated by summaries, photos and other materials, whilst the attention of the organisers will now focus on next year's event! 


topgold said...

We give academic credit for third level student proficiency in tools of social networking, which runs counter to your conclusion that most students want to keep their academic and personal lives totally separate.

Iain said...

Hi, there. I suppose it depends on what it is that you set for your learning outcomes and so in that case it doesn't necessarily contradict. I wasnt saying that you couldnt use social networking tools for education, but rather that the personal sites and personal profiles people have tend to be seen as part of the private sphere. A quick glimpse at bebo and facebook sites of students will easily show why in some cases!

The comment I made was based on the UK wide survey which was reported earlier in the year and brought up again at a couple of the sessions at this event too, with some local institutional surveys showing similar. It also echoes some comments from the US.

topgold said...

We're in the same space with the perspective on social networking. My experience with third level students suggests that they are comfortable with playing for academic credit inside Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, Google Docs and Blip.fm. And like the research also says, they would like to keep prying eyes of academia away from some of their stuff. It's rather remarkable how fast social networking has arrived in strength on campus and how unaware many academic staff members seem to be.