Students aren’t so web-savvy…

Nicole writes:

This is an interesting interview:

Eszter Hargittai, an assistant professor in Northwestern University’s sociology department, has discovered that students aren’t nearly as Web-savvy as they, or their elders, assume.

Ms. Hargittai studies the technological fluency of college freshmen. She found that they lack a basic understanding of such terms as BCC (blind copy on e-mail), podcasting, and phishing. This spring she will start a national poster-and-video contest to promote Web-related skills.

Eszter goes on to explain her study and its results. I found the comments as interesting as the interview itself. One comment in particular made me laugh:

Finally someone says it. We listen ad nauseam to administrators and journalists blather about tech in the classroom and this generation’s web-and-computer savvy. Bollocks. My students (at an R-1) have had enormous difficulty posting documents to Blackboard and WebCT; don’t know how to use a program’s tutorial; don’t know how to save documents in different file formats than the default; don’t realize they can discover basic information about our university (e.g. a phone directory, a registration calendar) through our webpage. They are as tech savvy as they are anything-else savvy: not so much, unfortunately.

Here’s my question – the first time you tried to use Blackboard or WebCT were you able to post info to it? As a very web-savvy person I have to say that Blackboard at least (since I never had to use WebCT) is one of the most user-unfriendly tools I’ve ever had to use. Do not use Blackboard as a measure of your students web savviness. Also – I’m really glad I didn’t have this person as one of my professors. How can any instructor be so negative about their students? If you think they know nothing then how can you teach them effectively?

Read the whole post. I agree with both sides as well. I also agree that we have a perfect opportunity to community leaders with technology and young people. Step one: looking into ourselves.

This rang true as well: Also – I’m really glad I didn’t have this person as one of my professors. How can any instructor be so negative about their students? If you think they know nothing then how can you teach them effectively?

One of the worst thing a professor could ever do is look down on students. I think of what I do as a team-based or group process. Sure, I do the grades but I also guide the students and step back to let them discover their own path to learning. Please, somebody stop me if I become like the instructor described above. When I hear this, I’m reminded of Weinberger stating in the Cluetrain Chapter 5 that some businesses see their customers as adversaries. Same could be said here. If you see your students as adversaries, it’s time to move to another field.

I’ll do as much as I can to help my students learn, grow, etc.

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4 thoughts on “Students aren’t so web-savvy…”

  1. It’s intersting that you would draw conclusions about my teaching style based on that interview given that it doesn’t address my teaching at all. I care very much about student learning and figuring out ways to help students learn and grow. The student evaluations I get attest to the fact that man of my students appreciate my teaching and get a lot out of my classes.

  2. estzer – I believe both Nicole and I were responding to the commentor who said:

    Finally someone says it. We listen ad nauseam to administrators and journalists blather about tech in the classroom and this generation’s web-and-computer savvy. Bollocks. My students (at an R-1) have had enormous difficulty posting documents to Blackboard and WebCT; don’t know how to use a program’s tutorial; don’t know how to save documents in different file formats than the default; don’t realize they can discover basic information about our university (e.g. a phone directory, a registration calendar) through our webpage. They are as tech savvy as they are anything-else savvy: not so much, unfortunately.

    Not you!

  3. Thanks for clarifying. I guess the “this person” was hard to parse. It makes sense that it would refer to the person talking about Blackboard, but I guess it wasn’t clear to me. Glad to know you weren’t drawing conclusions about my teaching based on that short interview.:)

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