JISC Study on Students and Technology

Another interesting item from JISC: The Student Expectations Study (I previously wrote about JISC in ticTOCs: Journal Tables of Contents). This study, conducted in the UK, had in-depth interviews with 27 students between the ages of 15-18 in a focus group setting and a follow-up survey of about 500 students with ages between 16 and 18.
The survey covered several topics:

  • Current levels of ICT [Information and Computer Technology] provision at school/college
  • Expectations of ICT provision at university
  • Any difference between expectation of ICT provision and that which is provided by HE [Higher Education] institutions

The full report is a 49-page, 1MB PDF document filled with interesting tidbits about these students’ vision of technology. To quote the conclusion (p. 29):

The audience for our research thinks that technology should:

  • Support established methods of teaching and admin[instration];
  • Act as an additional resource for research and communication;
  • Be a core part of social engagement and facilitate face-to-face friendships at university.

These principles run across all groups identified in the online research. Those who are leading edge users or have high use of ICT at school are perhaps more technology savvy and open to its use, but they do not want technology to encroach on their learning or social experiences.
Fundamentally, this age group suspects that if all learning is mediated through technology, this will diminish the value of the learning. [Emphasis mine]

The last point, that the survey respondents view mixing technology and education with a jaundiced eye, is an interesting one for our profession, and for education more broadly.
Update 13 Sept 2007 See also the The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007 for a similar study of U.S. undergraduate students.

Education as Marketing Tool

Jill Stover, in her “Library Marketing — Thinking Outside the Book” blog, points to a press release from Powered, Inc., describing research Powered did on the impact of online education. The release highlights the findings that 90% of their study group of 200,000 consumers who participated in online education programs are likely to recommend the experience to a friend, and 94% of respondents have a more favorable perception of the brand because of the experience.
While the study was focused on commercial ventures, Jill notes:

What does this mean for libraries? A lot. Marketing is becoming less about pushing stuff out to people, and more about empowering them to succeed. Library instruction is one great way to do that as patrons gain valuable knowledge skills while librarians are positioned as experts on particular topics. … Faculty may appreciate lessons on RSS that help them keep up with the literature in their fields; new mothers may like guidance on how to find the best free resources on childhood development.”

Jill makes an excellent point. The resources libraries have to offer, combined with librarians’ traditional emphasis on personalize and detailed research assistance, creates a powerful marketing tool. Offering how-to classes on technologies — and on subjects — is a good way to show patrons the value of the library. With libraries’ patron base increasingly relying on the Internet to use the library, online education is the way to go.

Student Research by RSS Hits the Mainstream

RSS Feeds College Students’ Diet for Research, an article in the 1 August 2005 USA Today highlights one way college students are taking advantage of RSS to do their research. One student at the University of Pennsylvania, “peruses summaries of the latest articles about stem cell research. She quickly dismisses the first three articles but pauses on the fourth before clicking to read the entire story.” Another student, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says, “Running searches on Google or Yahoo! will bring back so many irrelevant sources. There’s the issue of making sure the sources you do find are credible.”
Sounds like students have twigged to the significance of RSS. Is your library offering easy access to these information streams to your students and faculty? How much promotion are you doing of the RSS-ified resources you already have in your digital collections? Our library just launched a guide to using RSS for research alerts and will be including similar material in our beginning-of-year workshops for new students — but I suspect there’s a lot more we could be doing.