Knowing Technology

Stdent sitting in front of a computer in a library

Are students just out of High School more tech savvy than older, non-traditional students? Many have this perception! Young students may have grown up with technology, but do they know the technology we use in our on-line classes? Blackboard, Adobe Presenter, VoiceThread, even PowerPoint can become challenging if the student has never used it before.

When you look at the bottom line, students don’t know what they don’t know, so it may be unfair to assume that they understand the technology UAS uses for teaching. Just because we, as Faculty, know how things work and are comfortable with the technology, doesn’t mean that students have the same understanding and comfort level.

To emphasis this, we can look at a young student trying to figure out how to do things that might seem simple to most of us, such as changing the radio station on a boombox, typing on a typewriter, and putting film in a camera. Without experience or training a seemingly tech savvy 22 year old might have trouble. Lets watch the video below to find out if this is true.

I want to emphasis that to build the knowledge students need to do their best work, you may need to include teaching the technology; this is especially true when teaching online.  First-time online learners drop out at a rate that is two to five times higher than traditional face to face learners.  (Lee and Choi, 2011)  One of the reasons that the drop out rate is higher is due to learning gaps with technology that online learners have.  (Hart, 2012; Layne, Boston & Ice, 2015).

It has been found that computer literacy and navigation skills have been identified as possible barriers to student retention. (Michalski, 2014).  With that in mind it is important to not put a student in a situation where they are learning critical course material, while at the same time trying to figure out how the technology works.  

When teaching online it is important that you know your learners and their learning gaps.  As part of the course you are teaching (especially lower division courses), use formative assessment to make sure students can navigate Blackboard, and make sure they understand how to use any technology tools being used during the semester. 

Cartoon girl at computer thinking about a compass, tv screen, iPad, and having questions/answers
Do your students understand the technology?

Also make sure that your students are aware of the UAS Helpdesk in case of unexpected technical issues they may encounter.  You will also want to give students an opportunity to participate in audio/visual sessions, such as using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and use the discussion board for students to talk to one another.  Many times they can help solve each other’s technical problems.

As we work towards greater retention of students, let’s eliminate technology as a reason for having students drop out.  

Thanks for reading FLC and have a great weekend!

Hart, C. (2012). Factors associated with student persistence in an online program of study: A review of the literature. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 11(1).

Layne, M., Boston, W. E., & Ice, P. (2015). A longitudinal study of online learners: Shoppers, swirlers, stoppers, and succeeders as a function of demographic characteristics. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 16(2).

Lee, Y., & Choi, J. (2011). A review of online course dropout research: Implications for practice and future research. Education Technology Research and Development, 59(5), 593–618.

Michalski, G. V. (2014). In their own words: A text analytics investigation of college course attrition. Community College Journal of Research and Practice.