With college students returning soon for the fall semester, whether in-person, remote or hybrid, faculty and staff should take a more student-centered perspective when it comes to students’ digital self-efficacy.
College students who are not confident in their ability to learn and to adapt to new edtech have more negative experiences with online learning, according to a study from the College Innovation Network.
Those who expressed confidence in their ability to learn new technologies were likely to feel they were learning effectively online and wanted more online learning options.
The survey asked 700 students enrolled at four higher ed institutions to answer questions about how online learning was like for them in the 2020-2021 academic year and centered around “edtech self-efficacy” — confidence in one’s ability to learn new technology.
Eighty percent of respondents said they were confident in learning new ed tech tools, while 20 percent said they struggled. The stereotype of all students are masters of technology is not true.
“If students get stuck struggling to use their assigned edtech tools, they may not ever break through to engage with the actual course material, says Kathe Pelletier, director of the teaching and learning program at EDUCAUSE to edsurge.com.
Some students discovered their laptops were too old or too slow to handle the assignment that was given to them. When professors scrambled to move courses to online, many had leeway to use whatever technology they could find, which meant students had to learn multiple edtech systems for each class.
College students are less likely to use and trust edtech tools that they don’t consider relevant, accurate, or easy to use. “Students just want to know what their assignment is, when it is due and where to put it,” Pelletier told edsurge.com.
Faculty must be intentional in selecting edtech tools, explaining exactly how and why it’s used in their courses. Professors should make their first assignment low-stakes, so student’s don’t feel too pressured.
Instructors who notice students who are not doing well on assignments, should follow up to see whether they’re having trouble with technology.
Having a mandated technology orientation on the first day is a good step. Professors could also hand out a survey on the first day asking students’ how comfortable they are using new education technology and then inviting those who indicated low confidence to drop by during office hours to troubleshoot any concerns.