The Key to Competitiveness: Understanding the Next Generation Learner (AASCU article)

I came across this article today (featured on Educause’s newly redesigned Web site) about the changing landscape of defining IT strategy in higher education. On the whole, it was an interesting article, and maybe later I’ll comment on the general thesis. But what struck me most today was the first few pages describing the technology-savvy of a typical undergraduate at UCF.

In light of our recent TLTR conversation about the technology proficiency at UMW, I was left wondering if we were missing the boat. One of the main points of the article was that the technology savviness of undergraduates should actually be driving our development of IT strategy and inspiring our faculty to do more with technology. Whereas, our conversations about the technology proficiency seem to assume that we’re leading the students to technology.

I just wonder whether in 2004 in makes a lot of sense for us to be investing so much effort in testing students’ word processing skills. This might have made sense 2-3 years ago, but does it still make sense now? If we can assume that technology is as deeply infused in our students’ lives as the ones in this article, do they really benefit much from what we’re currently asking them to do in the technology proficiency?

After our meeting on Wedneday, I’ve been spending some time digging around for information about similar programs at other schools. I was sort of surprised when I didn’t get a single result from searching for “technology proficiency” in Educause’s online library. Trying alternative search queries and digging around on the Web didn’t yield much more. I was pretty surprised, actually, at how few schools I turned up that were running similar programs. Most of the programs that I did find seemed to have been created around 2001 and haven’t been updated since then.

I think we definitely should be working to infuse the curriculum with more technology-focussed experiences, but I think our work should reflect (to the greatest extent possible) the most current trends in technology, and, in particular, how students are embracing those trends.

On an unrelated note, I really liked the interface that the aacsu article used. I’m someone who has trouble reading and digesting text online (I often resort to printing), and I found this book-like interface very easy to use.

Speaking of Learning Spaces. . .

Check out this article at on the use of Second Life (an online, three-dimensional metaverse) in the classroom.

The two faculty quoted in this article are using SL in classes that deal specifically with technology development and urban/space planning. But SL also seems like an interesting example of a possible general learning space and, I might add, an online learning space that seems a whole lot more compelling than your typical course management system.

Best of all, the makers of SL are offering a discounted/free campus license…any takers?