Thursday, 28 July 2011

Impact of IT on learning

I attended one of SQA's occasional research seminars yesterday afternoon. This one was about learners' use of IT. The research was carried out (by SQA) between April and May 2011, and focussed on school pupils and college students in Scotland. The main points I noted were:
  • 9 in 10 used their own technology for learning
  • just over half felt "very comfortable" using technology for learning
  • 2 in 3 used technology for assessment purposes
  • 3 in 4 used some sort of virtual learning environment
  • 9 in 10 felt technology helped them to learn.
Although students themselves used social media (such as Facebook) for learning, this was pretty limited (such as setting up a Facebook group to discuss homework) and they didn't think social media had a lot of potential for learning.

Teachers were also positive about learners' use of technology, expressing the view that it improved engagement (particularly with less able students), provided access to up-to-date information, and improved learners' IT skills, which they will need for their working and adult lives. Both teachers and learners enjoyed using technology.

It wasn't all positive. Some teachers were concerned about the "cut and paste" mentality among some learners. Teachers also expressed some concerns about students' different levels of access to technology - and the implications for fairness. And they were also a little worried about students' ability to differentiate between the quality of information on different websites. Blocks on access to "useful websites" was also commented on.

Although one of the advantages of using technology in school and college was the new skills students acquire, only 30% of students felt that they were well prepared for using technology in the workplace. Half the students felt "very comfortable" using technology - meaning that half did not. And although 9 in 10 felt technology helped them to learn, only 4 in 10 said it helped them to a "great extent". So there is clearly room for improvement.

We plan to publish the report in the near future. Contact Simon Allan if you want more to know more about this research.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. Our centre carried out a survey of technology in learning (primarily Moodle) through the VLE and the response came back very positive with a few surprises, for example most thought students would respond by saying that they found Moodle difficult to use, when in fact it was the opposite!

    Social media also had a big impact on one of our graded unit classes (Networking year 1) where students collaborated extremely well through Facebook. I am in the process of preparing for an MA in Online Learning, I may well come and speak to SQA about this research :)