Universities and the use of information and communication technologies in higher education
MONTREAL, Oct. 16, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Conference of Rectors and Principles of Québec Universities (CREPUQ) and its Pedagogy and Information and Communication Technologies Subcommittee (PICTS) are pleased to present the results of an extensive study done in 2011 on how information and communication technology (ICT) is used in university education in Québec.
Although various studies have been conducted in Québec in recent years, CREPUQ's study stands out because of its scale, the fact that two populations (students and instructors) were consulted simultaneously, and the in-depth coverage of the questionnaire used. Respondents from 12 of the 16 Québec universities participated in this study, a total of 15,020 learners and 2,640 instructors.
In all, nearly 18,000 people gave their opinions on learning methods, technology and teaching practices. The viewpoints expressed by the respondents provided insight into why and under what conditions ICT use can be considered a success or failure in higher education in Québec.
PRINCIPAL RESULTS OF THE STUDY
The first result concerns students' study habits: 53% of them spend less than three hours per week studying for their courses. And yet, three hours is the minimum time that instructors consider necessary for learners to absorb and understand material properly. More intriguing is the finding that one third of university students consider their study methods to be "average, not very or not at all" effective.
With regard to technology use, the overall picture shows two populations that use technology frequently and feel comfortable with it. 94% of instructors say their computer skills are average to very good and 94% of students use a computer often, in or outside the classroom.
In addition, 86% of instructors have a positive or very positive attitude toward technology in general, and 53% of students have a positive or very positive attitude toward the use of technology tools at university.
This result is surprising considering the prevailing view that students are fond of and at ease with information technology. Similarly, the image of the professor who does not know how to use ICT is gradually disappearing.
To help understand the perceptions of these two populations regarding ICT use in the classroom, the tools' effectiveness, and the links between technology and learning, the researchers divided all of the available tools into three groups. The first group contained the "usual" tools (such as presentation software and email), the second group covered collaborative tools (like wikis, blogs and logs), and the third group was for specialized tools (examples are statistical analysis programs and simulators).
This approach revealed a substantial difference between students and instructors. Students are less enthusiastic than instructors about the "usual" tools that they use on a daily basis: they consider them less effective for course work than their teachers. Inversely, students are more enthusiastic than instructors with regard to the effectiveness of collaborative and specialized technologies.
The study also examined both populations' use and knowledge of Web applications, with surprising results! Instructors are better informed about the various applications available on the Web. But there is a nuance; instructors are not necessarily the heaviest users of these applications. The contrary is not true, however: students do not use the same applications as instructors and are not even aware of them. Each group therefore has its preferences where Web applications are concerned.
The findings relating to the link between various technological and teaching practices and students' appreciation of a course are certainly among the most interesting. Although a link does exist between ICT use and course appreciation, it is relatively weak compared to the other variables that explain students' positive perceptions.
For students, the more effectively technology is used during their course, the better they consider the course to be. Nevertheless, technology aside, it is the students' classroom experience and the quality of the teaching that bear more weight in students' and instructors' appreciation of courses. Students prefer interesting intellectual challenges, appropriate use of lectures and relevant, meaningful teaching materials. What instructors deem most important are interactive teaching methods like class discussions. Also, for both students and teachers, educational value is more important than technology.
For more information, the full study report is available at the following URL (in French only): http://www.crepuq.qc.ca/spip.php?article1416&lang=fr
SOURCE: CONFERENCE OF RECTORS AND PRINCIPALS OF QUEBEC UNIVERSITIES (CREPUQ)For further information: