Sunday, March 3, 2013

What are college students really doing online during class?

This is an interesting new study by Professor Reynol Junco, a faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Law and Society, on the actual online classroom surfing habits of college students.  As Professor Junco notes, student self-reporting about whether and what they're viewing online during class time is inherently unreliable so he instead used software to track their classroom browsing habits.  Here's the abstract of his new article iSpy:  Seeing what students really do online from Learning, Media and Technology that describes what he found.

Numerous studies have shown that college students use computers, the internet, and social networking websites (SNS) at high rates; however, all of these studies have relied on self-report measures of technology use. Research in other areas of human behavior has shown that self-report measures are considerably inaccurate when compared to actual behaviors. This study produces more effective estimates of the time that college students spend on computer and internet activities by using logging software to collect data on actual use. A sample of 45 students installed a computer monitor for two months. The results show that social networking was the most popular computer activity, with Facebook being the most popular SNS. Furthermore, the results also suggest that students may be able to somewhat regulate their computer use in ways that could benefit them academically. For instance, students spent significantly more time using the university's learning management system when classes were in session and less time watching videos. Although there are some limitations of monitoring computer usage, such monitoring is an effective method of evaluating frequency of use.


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