Information Technology in teaching student s perspective

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1 Educational mini-project Wojciech Krajewski Sonchita Bagchi Information Technology in teaching student s perspective Introduction The nature of teaching has virtually been unaltered throughout centuries, the prime objective being passing the knowledge to the new generation. The new era of digitalization appears to be revolutionized with extensive usage of computers, printers and internet. Colleges and universities worldwide are tending to expand access to higher education. In our world today, the universities reward good research far more than good teaching. Unfortunately, in academics, where priorities should be given equally to both research and teaching, teaching comes second as well. To make up for this the universities must adopt new professional approaches for teaching to parallel research. One way is to introduce new technologies for facilitation of the process of learning. Information technology (IT) is a smart and convenient way to meet the requirements of today s new generation. This is an efficient tool in the process of transmission of knowledge. Method In order to investigate the use of IT in courses taught at the Uppsala University (Natural Science faculty), we decided to carry out a survey among undergraduate students. These students are mostly civil engineers with the specialization in molecular biotechnology. We designed a questionnaire with 13 simple questions. Some of them were multiple choice questions with the possibility of adding some comments on each of them (see appendix 1). Then we distributed the questionnaire to 47 students and analyzed their opinions. 1

2 Results 77% of students have ranked their basic computer skills as average and good with scores of 3 and 4, respectively. 20% of the students ranked their skills as very good, while only 2% of those surveyed, gave themselves a score of 2 (Fig1). This indicates that the great majority of students think that their computer skills are adequate for studying purposes. The knowledge about good basic computer skills among students is important for teachers that want to use computers for their courses. One cannot assume that all students have had the same amount of exposure to technology, and perhaps provide some tutorials before commencing a course. Computer skills of students 1 0% 21% 2 2% 3 47% % Fig1: Ranking of computer skill of the students In the questionnaire, we had 9 questions and the results are represented in Fig2. Please refer to the appendix1 for a particular question. 2

3 Participant's response to the survey No. of responses Q2 Q3 Q4 Q Q7 Q9 Q10 Q12 Q13 Questions in the survey Yes No Fig2: Graphical representation of the questions in the survey. In the questionnaire, we had 3 multiple choice questions for which the results are shown in Fig3. Please refer to the appendix1 for a particular question. Multiple choice questions in the survey No. of responses Q6 Q8 Q11 Questions in the survey a b c Fig3: Graphical representation of the multiple choice questions in the survey. 3

4 When it comes to a distance, computer-based course, the survey showed that about 8% of the respondents have taken such a course. The relatively low participation in distance courses could reflect the fact that the majority of our target group was full-time students, who take mainly campus-based courses. Some people, however, indicated that they are planning to take a distance-course in the near future. In order for a distance course to work, it needs to be carefully planned and be well structured. All the technical aspects of the course must work properly, and have to be tested for any bugs before the course begins. More than half of the interviewed agreed that various distractions could make it difficult for a person to complete an online course. It is important to realize that with online courses a lack of pressure can have a negative effect on generating and maintaining motivation. Another aspect of online course is the evaluation of the students. As some of the respondents pointed out, it is important that the examination is properly organized, so that it can adequately measure the student s skills and acquired knowledge. Some people expressed opinion that the examination should not be carried out online but in the traditional classroom setting. More than 9% of the students indicated that they have good access to the Internet and at the same time to a computer, which means that they can readily access , learning managements systems, and discussion forums for educational purposes. Our survey also shows that very willingly students look for specific information using online search engines, rather than traditional libraries. The amount of information on the web, and its availability at the fingertips of the user is behind the popularity of that option. Only 8.% of students declared that they use laptop computers in classrooms, which apart from the cost issue could suggest that it is easier and more convenient to take notes using pens. Another important area where technology has been widely used at universities is the way the lectures are presented. Many teachers nowadays use PowerPoint presentations for lectures and seminars. However, based on our small survey more lectures have been presented using the traditional black/white board than with PowerPoint. As some students indicated, the choice of presentation medium depends on the nature of the class. For mathematics and physics, black/white board tends to be used more frequently than PowerPoint, whereas for biology lectures the opposite tendency is observed. 4

5 About one-third of the participants replied that they have used a discussion forum for educational purposes. Such a way of communication can be used to exchange ideas about a particular topic, to share thoughts on different courses, etc. For students that would like to take a certain course, it can be a useful tool for seeking opinions of people that took it in the past. One of the questions of the survey dealt with was the usage of for communicating with a teacher. Around one-third of the students preferred to use it rather than have a personal conversation. The majority, however, liked to talk to their teachers personally, and as some commented, one can get more information in this way without the risk of being misunderstood. Some people stressed that is often an easier way of getting in touch with a teacher, without the need for getting an appointment. With respect to the student s preferred way of examination, the survey shows that around 60% of respondents would choose a written exam over an oral and online exam. The latter two choices were equally popular. Written exams could be more popular, because students may find them more objective than the other two options. Some students, on the other hand, may find online exams more comfortable. Taking an exam at home setting is likely to be a less stressful experience. In our survey we also decided to investigate the familiarity of Uppsala University students with a learning management system, PING PONG. According to the survey, around 40% of students have at least once used PING PONG. Such systems may be very useful for organizing course materials, managing teaching assignments, accessing old examination forms, etc. However, some respondents found the system not very user friendly and had technical problems accessing it. Such feedbacks are important in improvement of the learning management systems. In general, most people agreed that computer-based learning is a good way to gain knowledge. A number of people found it a good alternative to other forms of learning whereas some thought it was good to use it in combination with other methods. The success with computer-based learning depends on the type of knowledge being transferred. One can possibly agree that it is more appropriate for studying, for example,

6 macromolecular structures than for usage in art courses. According to McKeachie, technology, just like any tool can be used poorly or inappropriately. It shouldn t be used for its own sake but only to improve student learning. Literature Wilbert J. McKeachie and Marilla Svinicki (2006) Teaching tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers 12 th edition Appendix 1 Information technology in Education student survey 6

7 Information Technology in Education The following is a general survey on the use of computers for studying. This project is part of the Teacher Training Course given by Uppsala University. It is completely anonymous. We really appreciate your views on this matter. So please take some time to fill out this questionnaire. 1) From 1 to, how would you rate your basic computer skills? ) Have you ever taken a distance, computer-based course? 3) An on-line course could be difficult to complete because of various distractions. Do you agree? 4) For online courses, flexibility of time and location can be problematic. Do you agree? ) Do you have easy access to the Internet? 6) If you were asked to find information about a given topic, what would be your first choice? a) go to the library b) ask around c) search on-line 7

8 7) Do you use a laptop in your classroom? 8) What is the most common way of presenting lectures in your class? a) black/white board b) transparencies (overheads) c) PowerPoint slides 9) Have you ever used a discussion forum for educational purposes? 10) Do you prefer to use for communication with a teacher over a personal conversation? 11) If you could choose between different ways of examination, which one of the following would you choose? a) written exam in class b) oral exam c) on-line exam 12) Have you ever used PING PONG (a learning management system)? If yes, please comment on how you liked it. 13) Computer-based learning is, in general, a good way to gain new knowledge. Do you agree? 8

9 THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME! 9

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