New research suggests that students are starting to mix their social networking sites with their academic studies and inviting tutors and lecturers into their virtual space. The research builds upon on an initial study – Student Expectations - carried out last year when 500 students were asked to indicate their expectations of technology provision when entering into higher education. This new data is based on students now that they are studying as first years at higher education institutions, compared to the previous study when they were still at school.
The key findings show that:
- General use of social networking sites is still high (91% use them regularly or sometimes). Frequency of use has increased now that they are at university with a higher proportion claiming to be regular users (80%) – up from 65% when they were at school/college
- 73% use social networking sites to discuss coursework with others; with 27% on at least a weekly basis
- Of these, 75% think such sites as useful in enhancing their learning
- Attitudes towards whether lecturers or tutors should use social networking sites for teaching purposes are mixed, with 38% thinking it a good idea and 28% not. Evidence shows that using these sites in education are more effective when the students set them up themselves; lecturer-led ones can feel overly formal
- Despite students being able to recognise the value of using these sites in learning, only 25% feel they are encouraged to use Web 2.0 features by tutors or lecturers
- 87% feel university life in general is as, or better than, expected especially in terms of their use of technology, with 34% coming from the Russell Group of universities saying their expectations were exceeded
- 75% are able to use their own computer on all of their university’s systems with 64% of students from lower income households assuming that they are able to take their own equipment, perhaps due to lack of affordability and ownership.