Friday, May 2, 2008

Gathering data on what our students know and don't know

We've talked about what typical students know and don't know about IT. The accepted wisdom is that new students are "digital natives," who know more than we do. However, the knowledge of some digital natives is shallow and brittle -- an inch deep and a mile wide.

Sociologist Eszter Hargittai has studied the content creation and sharing behavior and the digital literacy of undergraduate students at the ethnically diverse University of Illinois, Chicago. Her findings are summarized in an interview entitled A Sociologist Says Students Aren't So Web-Wise After All.

The interview draws upon research reported by Hargittai and Gina Walejko in The Participation Divide: Content Creation and Sharing in the Digital Age. You might also be interested in this article, which defines Hargittai's measure of digital literacy.

It would be interesting to put a version of Hargittai's digital literacy survey on the Net. It could be used to gather data on the general public, employees of organizations, students at other universities, etc. If such a survey caught on, it would be a way to gather data and track trends over time.

No comments: