Monday, December 21, 2009

Educause study on student use of computers and the Internet

The 2009 Educause Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology is out.

The study reports on the technology students use, how it affects their learning experience and their preferences in IT courses. This year's study held focus groups at 4 schools and surveyed 30,616 freshmen and seniors at 103 four-year institutions and 12 two-year institutions. (Longitudinal comparisons dating back to 2006 are available from only 39 institutions).

A few of their findings about students this year were:

  • 44.8% post videos on the Web
  • 41.9% post on wikis
  • 37.3% contribute to blogs
  • 35% use podcasts
  • 37.7% use VoIP
  • 98.8% own computers
  • 87.8% own laptops
  • 34.5% own both desktop and laptops
As shown below, this activity keeps them online (doing school work and recreation) an average of 21.3 and a median of 16 hours per week.

(Click the image to enlarge it).

For comparison, Nielson reported that the average American television viewer watched more than 148 hours per month during the second quarter of 2009.

The Nielsen report cited above reveals that television viewing is not falling as Internet usage rises -- where do people find the extra time? If you are a student, how do you compare with those in this study?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Findings from the Pew survey on Writing, Technology and Teens

I just posted a note on an online survey on writing that was completed during spring 2009 by children between 9 and 16 in England and Scotland. The post listed some of the statistical findings.

During the spring 2008, the Pew Research Center conducted a more scientific telephone survey on Writing, Technology and Teens. Some of their findings are listed below.

The methodologies were different, but they covered many of the same issues.

If you are a student, what are your answers to the questions these surveys asked? If you are a teacher, how might these statistics influence your curriculum?

  • 85% of teens ages 12-17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending email or instant messages, or posting comments on social networking sites.
  • 60% of teens do not think of these electronic texts as “writing.”
  • 50% of teens say they sometimes use informal writing styles instead of proper capitalization and punctuation in their school assignments;
  • 38% say they have used text shortcuts in school work such as “LOL” (which stands for “laugh out loud”);
  • 25% have used emoticons (symbols like smiley faces :-) ) in school work.
  • 83% of parents of teens feel there is a greater need to write well today than there was 20 years ago.
  • 86% of teens believe good writing is important to success in life – some 56% describe it as essential and another 30% describe it as important.
  • 48% of teenagers’ parents believe that their child is writing more than the parent did during their teen years; 31% say their child is writing less; and 20% believe it is about the same now as in the past.
  • 94% of black parents say that good writing skills are more important now than in the past, compared with 82% of white parents and 79% of English-speaking Hispanic parents.
  • 88% of parents with a high school degree or less say that writing is more important in today’s world, compared with 80% of parents with at least some college experience.
  • 50% of teens say their school work requires writing every day; 35% say they write several times a week. The remaining 15% of teens write less often for school.
  • 82% of teens report that their typical school writing assignment is a paragraph to one page in length.
  • White teens are significantly more likely than English-speaking Hispanic teens (but not blacks) to create presentations for school (72% of whites and 58% of Hispanics do this).
  • 82% of teens feel that additional in-class writing time would improve their writing abilities and 78% feel the same way about their teachers using computer-based writing tools.
  • 47% of black teens write in a journal, compared with 31% of white teens.
  • 37% of black teens write music or lyrics, while 23% of white teens do.
  • 49% of girls keep a journal; 20% of boys do.
  • 26% of boys say they never write for personal enjoyment outside of school.
  • 47% of teen bloggers write outside of school for personal reasons several times a week or more compared to 33% of teens without blogs.
  • 65% of teen bloggers believe that writing is essential to later success in life; 53% of non-bloggers say the same.
  • 72% of teens say they usually (but not exclusively) write the material they are composing for their personal enjoyment outside of school by hand; 65% say they usually write their school assignments by hand.
  • 15% of teens say their internet-based writing of materials such as emails and instant messages has helped improve their overall writing while 11% say it has harmed their writing. Some 73% of teens say this kind of writing makes no difference to their school writing.
  • 17% of teens say their internet-based writing has helped the personal writing they do that is not for school, while 6% say it has made their personal writing worse. Some 77% believe this kind of writing makes no difference to their personal writing.
  • 57% of teens belive that when they use computers to write, they are more inclined to edit and revise their texts.
  • 27% of parents think the internet writing their teen does makes their teen child a better writer, and 27% think it makes the teen a poorer writer. Some 40% say it makes no difference.
  • 93% of those ages 12-17 say they have done some writing outside of school in the past year and more than a third of them write consistently and regularly.
  • 49% of all teens say they enjoy the writing they do outside of school “a great deal,” compared with just 17% who enjoy the writing they do for school with a similar intensity.
  • 81% of teens who enjoy their school writing engage in creative writing at school.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Many UK children write on the Internet, and those who do consider themselves better writers than those who do not

The UK-based National Literacy Trust has done a survey on Young people's writing: Attitudes, behaviour and the role of technology.

The report, which is available online, outlines findings from 3001 pupils aged 9-16 from England and Scotland, who completed an online survey in May 2009. It explores the link between writing and gender and age differences, socio-economic background, mobile phone ownership, having a blog, and having a social network profile. It concludes with practical and policy implications.

A few of the findings:

  • 75% of young people said they write regularly -- online and off.
  • 56% of young people said they had a profile on a social networking site, such as Bebo or Facebook. 24% said that they have their own blog.
  • Young people who write on a blog were much more likely than young people who do not write on a blog to enjoy writing in general (57% vs. 40%) and to enjoy writing for family/friends in particular (79% vs. 55%).
  • Young people with a blog (61%) as well as young people with a profile on a social networking site (56%) also displayed greater confidence, believing themselves to be good writers.
  • Owning a mobile phone does not appear to alter young people’s enjoyment of writing, their writing behaviour or their attitudes towards writing.
  • Most young people said they used computers regularly and believed that computers are beneficial to their writing
  • Nearly 60% of young people believe computers allow them to be more creative, concentrate more and encourage them to write more often.
  • Just under 9 in 10 young people see writing as an important skill to succeed in life
  • In line with governmental figures, which show that girls outperform boys in writing.
  • There was a dip in enjoyment of writing, writing behaviour and attitudes towards writing at ages 11-14, but they recover again in pupils aged 14-16.
  • There was not a relationship between economic status (receiving free school meals) and enjoyment of writing, writing behaviour, or attitudes towards writing; however pupils who do not receive; howver, students who recieved free meals lacked confidence, rating themselves as worse writers.