Personal Learning Environments June 4-24, 2007

Students disinterested in computers.

Students disinterested in computers.

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Number of replies: 12
We've been discussing PLEs, and while no-one has actually stated it, it seems to me as if we're assuming that the students we're working with are going to want to have something to do with their learning that's on a computer.

However, in part, the "personal" choice could be to avoid computers unless under duress. Is something that a students would rather not use really ever going to be "personal"?

I'm specifically avoiding the terms "digital native" etc., as I'm not sure that they really work - not everyone who is under x years old is a happy computer user. They might use them because they have to, but far rather not. Just the same as some people who are over x years old might be a complete whiz with them, do as much as they can online etc. It's a choice that we all make.

Now, one could argue that most students don't really relish exams (I write this sitting in a computer room while students sit online exams - it's OK, I'm doing techy support, not invigilation!), but, they know that it's an inevitable part of University life. They probably know that they're going to have to, at some point, put a PC on to search the internet/ write an essay. However, their choice might be to use books/ pen & paper when ever possible. How much would getting them to learn to create their own PLE really help them with their learning, if they haven't the slightest interest in it, but have lots of interest in French or whatever. Are we then putting barriers in their way? How do we approach it?

This is more of a rhetorical question from my point of view - I work in a School of Computing, so most of my students are rather fond of using their computers. However, I've spoken to people - both staff and students - in other faculties, and they have very different stances on it!
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Derek Chirnside -
Emma (and 2 or three others), 8.00am here, and I just did not hit the keys early enough, domesticity calls.  I've a morning of meetings, I'll be online in the afternoon.
Glancing at your posts, you have raised some new significant matters.

I have a son like you describe.  Mobile phone (yes) Internet (only if I really have to) computers (No)  :-)

Last weekend's Innovate had some new takes on this as well, I'll get out the URL.  Have more questions than answers at the moment . . . 

[Isn't it great to be conversing AND working??]

I'll be back later . . .
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Heather Ross -
Derek said:

I have a son like you describe.  Mobile phone (yes) Internet (only if I really have to) computers (No)  smile

Sounds like Apple was correct to put the resources into the iPhone. I keep thinking about how much work I'll have ahead of me in a few years when our courses will need to be redesigned to accommodate this shift.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Jim Tittsler -
In some parts of the world (Japan and Korea especially) the mobile phone is the primary access to the Internet for many.  Email and web browsing are common, and supported by flat rate access fees.  There is everything from Moodle for Mobiles, to an array of mobile blogging sites and mobile wiki/note takers.  The mobile phone just becomes a very personal computer with ubiquitous access.
In reply to Jim Tittsler

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Ron Lubensky -
I think most  jurisdictions have the capability. Here in Australia, which I would not call a leader in telecoms, I have a SonyEricsson camera-phone that can also run the Opera Minibrowser. So through my phone, I have google, gmail, blogroll and chat access, amongst other things that I use quite often. (All without a Blackberry:-)

Jim, l agree that it's not as simple as "mobile vs internet". But it can be tricky to configure mobile services and it ain't flat rate here, I pay by the kilobyte.

I also don't think it's about computers either, as they are just an affordance, an appliance to provide something else. I'm not interested in my kettle, but I do like a hot cup of tea.

The question is whether people, young or old, believe that it is important and relevant enough for them to make the net central to their learning lives, however it is accessed? Is it right that those of us who believe in it should be advocating to the rest to change their ways? Is this an ethical question?


In reply to Ron Lubensky

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Jim, l agree that it's not as simple as "mobile vs internet". But it can be tricky to configure mobile services and it ain't flat rate here, I pay by the kilobyte.

I fully agree! While we could be in the situation of 99 % of students having a mobile phone, what do we do about those who don't have one for whatever reason.
If students have them, then staff have to to? Should staff have to pay for theirs - or should educational establishments supply a second one? If the latter, then could there be a time in the future when you are expected to have it with you at all times (other than face to face teaching!) - the thought of being on call 24/7 is not pleasant! (What if you live in  castle with thick walls/ behind a hill - and can't get a signal...)

Is it right that those of us who believe in it should be advocating to the rest to change their ways? Is this an ethical question?

That's the point I was trying to raise initially - it was good to get onto the discussion of mobile devices, but I was thinking more generally!

I don't know the answer to that one. When students sign up to a course, they are signing up with the knowledge that they'll be expected to read books/ attend classes/ prepare assignments/ sit exams etc.
At what point can we add "and to create a PLE, online, and use it. Even if you'd far rather write it on paper & stick it under the bed/ decorate your room with post-its / whatever" It's at that point, I start to question the ethics. While we are, on the one hand, saying the ideal PLE is the one in which the student has as much control as possible (assuming we teach him/her the requisite technical skills), we're automatically making the choice for them that it has to be electronic.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by E.A. Draffan -

I have come to the conclusion that to have all ones 'eggs in one basket' such as an electronic medium may not be the best PLE, so I have to agree - perhaps we are restricting some students by asking them to go mobile or on-line.   I look at student desks on a daily basis and like mine they are covered in notes, sticky or otherwise, some have audio recorders on them, scanners and printers and others are using their mobiles and computers all at once!  Is this not the personal space as developed for the first graphical user interfaces but have we become a paperless society? 

Maybe the PLE changes dependent on the tasks you are undertaking and the environment?  On the bus my PLE is a bag with a recorder and small note pad - my mobile phone as a PDA.  At work it is a tidy desk with a networked laptop and a few files whereas at home I have many more files and printouts as well as sticky notes etc.

As a result of this discussion I am beginning to wonder about the differences between the terms being used by us all e.g. ecology, environment, space ...

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by E.A. Draffan -

Hope there were no tecchie problems during the exam Emma!  I have to agree we have some students who are saying that Facebook etc and technology can distract them from their learning and they prefer to print out articles etc and hightlight key points, discuss things face to face and use PowerPoint to organise thougths!   So as usual we need to make sure we are aware of learner preferences and well as skills. (I say this in preference to talking about student learning styles or even disabilities)

Best wishes E.A.

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Inge Ignatia de Waard -
It would be interesting to see whether the students profiles could be taken into the Meyers-Briggs type indicator. That might give a guideline in learning approaches for different students.

I use this forum as an extra / a stimulus, for when I have done some intensive job at the office and it works nicely :-)

In reply to Inge Ignatia de Waard

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Tia Carr Williams -

Ignatia,

That is a brilliant idea..why isn't there a standard profiling for a student's 'learning type'. Im sure such a device would surface many students who have struggled with dyslexia or other learning impediments, such as my son did for some time, before the problem was identified appropriately, whereupon I was able to address his educational needs differently, reducing his stress and anxiety around learning per se.

Whilst computers aren't going to suit all students, just because they are comfortable with other communication devices such as mobile phones with extended capabilities will mean that learning will be adapted to be delivered in 'byte sizes' to enable another kind of educational consumption.

I recently attended an event at Reuters London where a high profile audience deriving from all large institutions and organisations were investigating how to construct such learning and where it is applicable to support standard learning environments and requirements.

Here Steve Besley of General Manager of Education Policy at http://www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/ln06016.htm starts to unravel some of the principles that we need to fully comprehend in addressing learning online.

Think piece 3 offers a fascinating insight into how Human – Computer Interaction (HCI) is changing. The familiar rows of desktop boxes and screens are going and being replaced by a more sophisticated relationship between human and computer, with the user not having to sit in front and the computer increasingly able to react to the needs and even the touch, smell and mood of the user.

'Five trends are detected. The first is ‘usability,’ focusing on what the user needs rather than trying to load more on the computer, a shift from a ‘one size fits all’ design to the ‘ubicomp’ or ubiquitous computer. Secondly, ‘multi modal interaction,’ interaction with computers that’s based on human senses, moods and voice tones, great for when you’ve had a bad day. Thirdly, ‘implicit v explicit interaction,’ moving from the traditional explicit form of interaction of having to sit down in front of a screen to more implicit and less fixed forms of interaction. Fourthly, ‘adaptive and perceptual interface,’ using pressure pads and sensors that respond to the emotional state of the user, which may help to explain some e mails. And fifth, ‘credibility,’ learning how to tell if the computer is telling the truth; no more computer says no perhaps. '

Equally, Becta have done quite a good job at assembling ways to address the student's barriers to learning online by enabling teachers to build confidence with particular skillsets.

 

In reply to Tia Carr Williams

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Inge Ignatia de Waard -
Thank you for this big amount of very interesting information Tia! Interesting topics to read up on. Human - Computer Interaction is so facinating.
In reply to Tia Carr Williams

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Derek Chirnside -
I'll follow this up Tia, and Myers Briggs, Yes, self understanding can help students I think, and also lecturers, if they are open to it.  The type of MBTI who is common in teaching however is NOT they type common in the average student population.  (Statistics wise)

But the Innovate comment:
http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=368
You do need a password/login (Yet another #$%^& username and password)

The Knowledge Building Paradigm:
A Model of Learning for Net Generation Students

As noted by a number of contributors to the previous issue of this publication (e.g., Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris 2007; van 't Hooft 2007; Thompson 2007), the Net Generation expects that technology will be an important part of their education. This is nicely illustrated by Chen (2002) in his description of an encounter with a young Net Generation student:

Recently, I met some middle school students who carry laptops in their backpacks. One boy told me how technology should not be a machine you go to, but a machine that goes with you. He said, somewhat impatiently, "It's part of my brain. Why would I want to leave it behind in a computer lab?" (xxii)

The statement that the computer is "part of my brain" should resonate with everyone involved in education today. Computers and the attendant technology can no longer be considered desirable adjuncts to education. Instead, they have to be regarded as essential—as thinking prosthetics (Johnson 2001) or mind tools (Jonassen 1996). But, like any other tool, thinking prosthetics must be used properly to be effective. In this article we briefly address the shift in learning styles associated with Net Generation students; we then introduce the Knowledge Building paradigm, a learning model particularly suited for a social environment in which cognitive prosthetics have become indispensable, as well as for the professional settings these students can expect to confront in their future careers. In doing so, we also point to corresponding transformations in business and education that will determine the future of the Net Generation learner and worker.


High ideals indeed.
But I was only pointing out the little comment: "Some kids see their laptops as their PLE".  Putting words into their mouths here maybe.  I think listening to Derek (W) he may resonate with this comment.  ??


There are NOT the students Emma wonders about in her post that starts this thread.  I too am worried some of these will miss out.
Michelle asks the right question in the Personal Ecology thread.  How do we help, provide for them?? - D
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Students disinterested in computers.

by Corinne Brooks -
I'm wondering in an opposite direction. Some students I am teaching will only work on the computer. They moan like mad if they cannot have a laptop. When I cover lessons they always say they were told they can do x, y, z on the laptops even though the cover notes say otherwise.

In another school the other day I was quite surprised in an english lesson to discover all the pupils were writing their work on word processors. I wondered why i had just done a half-hour basic skills handwriting lesson if they rarely write things by hand.

Are we in danger of producing children who cannot write properly by hand or do simple tasks without a computer. These same pupils were absolutely stuck when Google would not load. (These are special needs kids) and would not be persuaded to eg use ask.com or yahoo instead - or even God forbid type in the name of the site they wanted into the address bar, even though they are very computer literate and eg run rings round me in designing powerpoint presentations.

Will these children cope in society if they cannot have their own personal laptop to help them in future?

(Gotta dash - very rushed post as I'm due to leave for work any second)