What my students do

Yes, there are a lot of survey results out there on college students today, but these are for MY college students, right now, this summer. This is according to my first day surveys.

n=37 (History 104, mostly university students) / n=39 (History 111, mostly community college students)

What my students do at least weekly:

91% / 99% text message on a cell phone
82% / 83% cruise around the internet to see what’s up
80% / 69% e-mail someone
75% / 74% watch a YouTube video
52% /39% update my status at Facebook or MySpace
32% / 23% instant message on a computer (Yahoo IM, Google Talk, etc)
23% / 16% embed an image or video
23% / 21% use Skype
9% / 14% upload a video
7% / 14% create web pages

It’s possible to interpret a break between more social and entertainment uses, and those that imply creation of content. I also note a lesser use of email and status updates among community college students.

What’s this for?

What they’ve done before for educational purposes:

77% / 54% uploaded material
63% / 54% used Facebook
57% /37% posted work on the open web instead of Blackboard
48% / 41% uploaded to YouTube
39% / 37% blogged or commented on blogs
11% / 23% used my cell phone for QR codes or other real-world uses
7% / 6% none of these

I was surprised that so many have used Facebook for work, considering the “creepy treehouse” effect. It also looks like educators have pushed them to go beyond normal habits in uploading YouTube, posting on the open web and uploading material (especially at university), and participating in blogs.

What they’re comfortable doing:

100% /99% using Word
95% / 99% watching video or listening to music
82% / 76% downloading and installing a program or app
82% / 80% getting an account at a website
75% / 74% finding a translation for something that isn’t in English
0% /0% none of these

The two groups are remarkably consistent here, and Microsoft has obviously won the day with Word.

Conclusion: Expansion of my class Facebook group to include topics wouldn’t be amiss. I should expect that they will need to be pushed to create anything of their own. They won’t have trouble getting an account at websites or downloading something, or using Word. I already provide instructions on how to embed, and now I see that’s essential. They could be perplexed by IM or Skype for office hours (though I haven’t noticed that with IM), so I might try Moodle’s chat inside the system.

I think collecting this kind of information from our students is useful. It also helps counter the idea that they’re all sitting around making videos or blogging and being active creators – rather they appear to be natural consumers for whom it’s a good educational experience to be asked to do something different.

2 thoughts on “What my students do

  1. That is good data to collect. The Facebook numbers were surprising (at least to me). Have you noticed any trends in student activities?

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    1. You mean like the difficulty they have selecting text, clicking the link image, and pasting in a URL? I asked about embedding, but this seems to be more of a daily issue, I think because FB and other sites do the linking for you.

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