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EDUCAUSE Southeast Regional: Net Generation Students and Campus IT Panel

Summary: Net Generation Students and Campus IT: Supporting Student Success in the Age of Multitasking, Facebooking, and Instant Messaging

The session was recorded for podcasting and will be available as a part of the conference proceedings.

General Session
Southeast Regional Conference
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Atlanta, Georgia

Moderator:
- Jeanna Marie Mastrodicasa, Honors Program Associate Director and University Scholars Program Director, University of Florida
Panelists:
- Joan Collier, Student, Georgia State University
- Chris Davis, Student, Georgia Perimeter College
- Irakli Gabruashvili, Student, Georgia State University
- Anu Parvatiyar, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Olivia White, Student, Agnes Scott College

Abstract
What do we need to know to support student success in all facets of their higher education experience? IT services affect the success of students from the day they begin searching for a program or school to their eventual departure and beyond. What do students want us to know about them, and what we can do to make their educational experience successful? This facilitated panel of college students will cover current trends and needs of today's students, as well as how to make their educational experience more successful.

Introduction
Dr Mastrodicasa has been working on a national survey of college students and has found that most own a variety of technology such as laptops and cell phones. IM is used by 76% on a regular basis; 15% are on essentially 24X7. Facebook is used by 69%, where they login twice a day on the average. Only 28% have a blog, but 44% read blogs. She also noted that students today want to have 5 assignments at a time to work on rather than one at a time.

Panel Question and Responses
Topic: use of email - how you use university or other accounts?
- Chris is required to use his university email account and doesn't like it.
- Olivia didn't think she'd use it much but has found that she uses her university account to communicate about university activities and has discovered that she uses it more than her AOL account.
- Joan has multiple email accounts and she checks her school account about 3 times a day.
- Irakli forwards all mail from all of his various accounts to his yahoo account.
- Anu forwards all of her various email accounts to her gmail account. However, she only gives out her university account address and that's the address on the reply

Topic: value of email - how do you decide what to open and read?
- Most of the students look at the subject line only to decide whether to open it or not.

Topic: format of email - Do you prefer one email with ten ideas or ten separate emails?
- Olivia said that repeat emails are okay as reminders
- Chris said one concept per email is easy to put on the calendar.

Topic: Social networking - What social software do you use?
- All use Facebook, three use MySpace, and they check them several times a day.
- What they check for: birthdays, messages, (check "important" messages first) pictures/photos and if you've been tagged in a responsible way, social info - who broke up - finding friends from the past, talk to people you can't talk to in person. It's a great way to keep in touch with peers.
- Irakli's communicates with his friends in the Republic of Georgia and his friends in the US and has noted that there is a change in the way people build their relationships. You can now see your friends' friends and can develop relationships with them. This is happening with his two sets of friends. He said the whole world will soon know each other.
- Anu looks for her email messages first and then Facebook. She thinks the best is keeping in touch with friends which her older brother couldn't do because the technology wasn't available for him when he was in college.
- Olivia appreciates the ability to see photos from friends studying abroad and have a very real sense of their experiences there.
- Dr. Mastrodicasa said that as a faculty member who uses Facebook and uploads photos and labels, she is amazed by the number of students who view and comment on them. She creates a group for each class and this helps her know who her students are.

Topic: Social networking - How do you use instant messaging (IM)?
- Irakli indicated that IM was the "best" for him and his purposes
- Olivia said that IM was distracting so she gave it up and uses the phone.
- Chris thought that IM was good for working with others on projects and easy to cut and paste
- Anu leaves it up but might not talk on it. She said Google chat was taking over.

 

Topic: Web - Tell us about your web surfing.
- Most students use it for finding resources as they study. Wikipedia and other resources can be good places to start.

Topic: Social networking - (undergraduates using social software) How do you feel if and when instructors get on Facebook (your world)?
- Anu indicated that it opens up an approachability of the professor yet keeping it separate from academics shows s/he is a real person
- Joan doesn't want her professors to be her "friends" on Facebook - professors ask to be added as a friend but she doesn't want it used for judicial and other issues - it's private space
- Irakli said it depends upon personality of the professor. If there is a relationship already in place then it is not a problem at all.
- Olivia found more deans on Facebook than professors. She said it was no problem but could be awkward if you have to censor yourself.
- Chris sees staff members on Facebook but not professors. He'll always add them.
- They agreed that it depends upon the professors intent.

Topic: Online professor evaluations - Do you participate?
- Dr Mastrodicasa wasn't sure if it was okay that she was not "Chili Pepper" (hot) on ratemyprofessor.com.
- Chris has rated professors online
- Olivia doesn't look at them anymore as she found many had personal biases that did not translate to her own experiences
- Chris said he has to look at them with a grain of salt. He had a great math professor but that professor had bad ratings.
- Anu said that GATech has an inhouse system. Data is more representative of the full student body and is more even.
- Dr Mastrodicasa indicated that their survey found that incoming freshman are excited about the ability to see professor ratings in the beginning but then it mellows with the experience

Topic: Text messaging - Should it be used for emergency messages?
- Some systems allow students to opt-in and opt-out
- All of the students use text messages
- Joan uses all of her 1500 each month
- Irakli is a regular user but not to the extent that Joan uses it.
- Olivia uses text messaging less frequently than the others.
- Chris uses text messaging constantly, but sporadically, to replace IM

Topic: Text messaging - Is text messaging a second-language - do you use all of the abbrieviations?
- Most students use full words and not extensive abbreviations

Topic: Social software, safety and privacy issues - Has your institution provided information on social software, safety and privacy issues?
- Dr Mastrodicasa indicated that the University of Florida is heavily into social software and gives presentations on social software and its issues to students

- GA Tech and GA State have information and awareness programs. The other students did not remember having this information available.
- One general rule is to only put up what you want your grandmother to see
- Joan was familiar with a stalking incident where an individual had to be blocked. She was also concerned about inappropriate language and distortions.
- Anu put together a task force at GA Tech. They discovered that it is mostly freshman who put out inappropriate information so the student group (not IT or the university) does an orientation session for incoming freshman.
- Being "cool" is a factor in what goes online
- Joan said when her sorority reviews applications they also look at Facebook entries.
- Joan also suggested that they would like something that stops others from tagging you in a photo or otherwise, esp. inappropriately.
- Dr Mastrodicasa said that the UFL orientation staff will look at Facebook sites and advise students regarding the use of Facebook by Corporations. She is aware that some corporations use their current interns to snoop on their future interns.

Topic: Laptops - Does your university or college have a laptop requirement? And do you really use it?
- GA Tech and UFL have laptop requirements but few students bring laptops to classes. They do use laptops for non-education process.
- Chris said it depends on the professor and/or the topic in his situation.
- Anu, from GA Tech, does have the laptop requirement and they also have lots of computer labs. However, in general, professors discourage "distracting " behavior (working on your computer) during classes.
- Chris says laptops are best used in the classroom for taking notes.

Topic: Peer-to-peer filesharing - Does your university have a filesharing policy and what are your thoughts on this topic?
- Olivia - has heard discouragement from the campus -
- Virus issues make it self-regulating

Topic: Faculty using technology to interact with students - How can the faculty interact with the students most effectively? What do you think about wikipedia?
- Chris loves wikipedia and finds good user written content. For him it is a great place to start and it would help students learn from each other. He believes it should be integrated with everything we do online.
- Irakli said it was easy to understand and to the point which is good for students
- Anu agreed that it was a good place to start in finding basic information quickly and noted that it was quickly updated because so many people are reading and up-dating it.
- Jeanna noted a New Yorker article on wikipedia that was amazingly accurate.

Topic: Large Lectures - Social networking, social bookmarking, what kinds of suggestions/ideas do you have to make large courses more engaging and foster collaborative work and foster a better faculty-student relationship?
- Irakli suggested that using technology to move students closer to the real world, in his case to do day-trading. Practical applications of technology are necessary to do this.
- Anu thinks we should design courses where the larger group is broken into smaller groups and given a problem that they need to resolve that week. Students are more independent and do work on their own
- Chris said powerful tools (now used for assistive technology) would be great for regular students as well. He fast-forwards long slow lectures to pace them better and make them more interesting. Students could fast forward recorded lectures to speed up what the professor is saying
- Anu suggested the use of YouTube with academic materials uploaded.
- Dr Mastrodicasa uses YouTube frequently in her teaching.
- Chris said the choke point for implementing technology in the classroom is the professor. He suggested that we need to help them, make their life easier. If things aren't easy for the professor then they won't be easy for the student.

Topic: Textbooks - They are so expensive - how can technology help? How can we fix the problem.
- Universities should reduce the selling price and increase buy-back price
- Use JStor
- Chris talked about a student-run book buy-back & sales effort
- Olivia said there was a Facebook group for buying/selling books - the trouble is trying to get the right edition. She suggested there is conflict because bookstores don't want the students doing there own sales.
- Chris asked why he should use a text book when I can get the information elsewhere and why do they come out with a new edition of Ancient History every year?

Topic: IT Services - What do you want to tell the audience about campus IT services?
- Olivia we need wireless everywhere and in the dorms
- Special software is needed at all labs not just in limited locations.
- Iraki wants more online courses from other universities available to him to broaden his options.
- Anu talked about moving away from WebCT and choosing to move to SAKAI. They don't want multiple sources for their technology. They would like it all put in one place with good integration: calendar, messaging, courses, all in one place and relevant to YOU
- Uses Blogger.com if you don't have something like it on your campus.
- Olivia said blackboard is okay for those professors who use it but many don't use it.
- Chris repeated his approval of wikipedia because students can teach each other which uplifts and bolsters the professor
- Dr. Mastrodicasa talked about Gatorpedia which is available at UFL.
- In general, Joan likes what GA Tech offers
- The Student Learning Center at the University of GA at Athens is a great facility

The session was recorded for podcasting and will be available as a part of the conference proceedings.

 

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