Monday, 7 July 2008

Great Expectations

In London Friday morning for a UCISA conference organising meeting - programme now coming together and we agreed on the motivational speaker for the final slot, to send everyone on their way fired up and ready to go!

One good thing about travelling (the bad thing being the carbon footprint, but I go by train wherever I can), is the amount of work I can get done on a 2 and a half hour train journey - no emails or phone calls to interrupt me. On the way back on Friday I read a recent JISC report called Great Expectations of ICT - you can download the report from the link. This follows on from a study undertaken in June 2007 looking at students expectations of IT - this one interviewed first year students to see if their expectations had been met. I would suggest that anyone who is involved in the use of IT with students reads it - it is particularly relevant to our projects on innovative communications and the student learning community. There's some interesting findings, some of which I've picked out:
  • The proportion of students whose expectations were exceeded in terms of amount of ICT used on their course is notably higher for Russell Group universities. Is that because their expectations were lower in the first place, or are we providing more than other universities?
  • Students are comfortable with using ICT in many areas - VLEs, course administration, self service tools. However, other's they find harder, for example the use of social networking tools for learning - although they are using these tools regulalry, they cannot see how this can help learning. Where social networking emerges from among the students, it is more successful than social networking systems put in place by the teacher (which can feel overly formal and “fake”). Other forms of new technologies such as wikis they are much less comfortable with - many not knowing what one is, despite being very familiar with Wikipedia.
  • 80% are satisfied with the level of internet access provided by their university, and interestingly, most accept the need for restrictions on downloads. The most satisfied group again are those at Russell Group universities.
  • Students are less satisfied with the level of support they get in order to best use ICT - they still go to their friends first when they have IT problems.
It's a long report, but essential reading for those of us involved in providing ICT to students, with some good conclusions about exceeding, rather than just meeting, student expectations.

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