Thursday, March 24, 2011

Technology Adoption by College Students

There are a multitude of surveys and even more uneducated guesses about America's youth and technology use. Most of us over 50 make huge assumptions that students, particularly college students, are whizzes with technology. Of course we often attribute this to what we see on TV and maybe by the teen in our house who spends hours glued to the cell phone. By the way, many adults also assume that we know far less about technology because our generation did not get the tech gene.

While it may be that many of the youth of today are technology fearless, most do not race to be first in line for the latest technologies. ECAR, the Educause Center for Applied Research, does a student technology every year. ECAR does a pretty thorough job of surveying students. The 2010 survey obtained responses from 36,950 from over 125 American and Canadian college campuses. They also completed focus groups to make sure that they did not miss anything. Now I must say that results found in the ECAR study are very consistent with the 800 student survey that I do each spring. So there. If you feel the need to download their 118 page study, feel at at this site.

Here are just a few interesting results from their study:

- 49% of students surveyed describe themselves as "mainstream adopters" who wait and do not jump on the next new technology. Over 17% characterize themselves as late adopters or even "laggards" when it comes to adopting new technologies.

- Male students (44%) surveyed consider themselves to be "early adopters" or "innovators", suggesting that many males are indeed jumping on the next new thing. Female students tend to be more conservative when considering new technologies with only 26% considering themselves to be "early adopters" or innovators".

- "Almost two-thirds of the respondents own an Internet-capable handheld device."

- On average students surveyed spend an average of 21.2 hours per week on the Internet for school, work, or recreation.

From these few bullets we can see that college students are engaged with technology. From my informal discussions with faculty and other IT professionals I can see that although students are very interested in using technology for a variety of purposes, there are holes in their understanding of how most technologies work. Many do not know the intricacies of spreadsheet, how a web page is created, or what a database is. I think there is more work to be done in the area of technology fluency before students go out into the real world. Perhaps this needs to be a piece of their general education.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Going north to visit Avid

I am headed for Massachusetts tomorrow to spend a couple of days with the leaders of Avid. Avid is probably the largest provider of professional level video and audio recording and editing software. Our campus has used Media Composer their high end video editing product and Pro Tools, the audio recording and editing product for some time. They make a variety of creative tools, but these are the main tools that our students use.

I serve on their Education Customer Advisory Board. I feel a bit out of my league with people from the Berkeley School of Music, Yale, the USC School of Cinematography, Chapman University, and the LA Film School in attendance. I am the lone Chief Information Officer on the group. I guess this makes me sort of the token techy, but that's Ok. I contribute where I can on issues like data storage, security, licensing and other less creative stuff.

I do it because I believe that my University has the golden opportunity to be one of the leaders in the production of digital content on the east coast. I know, this is a bold statement. Salisbury University built a fantastic digital media center in 2008. We have two video studios (HD and SD) and an HD audio recording studio. Of course we also have over a dozen video editing suites and seven audio suites. Oh, we also have computer labs for digital photo and new media. Despite the nice facilities, we have a great deal to learn and almost all of the schools on this board have already reached the top of their fields.

Although, I still feel a bit out of my element it's always an exciting trip. This spring we are headed to Burlington, Mass. The new Avid HQ. The Avid leadership always comes out in force and the other board members are unassuming and extremely bright.

If you have a minute check out these short videos to see what is all about:

Media Composer 5
Pro Tools 9

It is really exciting to see the touring freshmen light up when they see the studios and watch students working. Genuine excitement cannot be hidden and it's very cool to watch.You can learn much more about both products by thumbing through the many YouTube videos.

BTW, don't forget that more and more digital media is being distributed through the web. A foundation in web design cannot hurt.