Last week, I had students in my group communication class work at tables to do some problem solving. They were given an fact sheet about a country (including population, capital, official and second languages spoken, currency name, etc...) and they had to figure out the name of the country, the continent, and the surrounding countries. They then were given another country with the same data, but they had to accomplish the task while sitting with their backs to the other group members.
What I found interesting was when they were face to face, some students pulled out their cell phones and searched for the country, first by the name of the capital, then locating it on google maps. By the second task, all groups were doing this, even if someone knew the answer. The "expert" in the group's answer was verified on line. What is interesting is that I have done this exercise for the same class twice before and this was the first time students were able to complete the task.
I also teach international marketing at a private university. I was lucky enough to get the market research lab for this class, so my students each have their own computer. During one of my "lectures", I asked students the difference between code law and common law countries, based on an online module they were supposed to have watched. Well, needless to say, the majority of them had not done their homework and when I called on specific students to question them about the two different legal systems, the first few were like deer in a head light. However, I also noticed that many of the students were busy on the internet. I thought that maybe they were looking at the module (although I don't think they'd be able to access it and get the information in the amount of time that I could call on them). As I started to walk through the class, still asking questions, I noticed a number of them had the wikipedia post on Code and Common law on their computers.
My conclusion is that:
- students will not spend time doing the home work if they feel they can access the information when they need it.
- These same students will not learn anything work related until they need it (just in time learning)
- students are very good at finding information using technology and "experts"
- Experts will always need to be verified by the internet, but internet sources will not have to be verified by experts
- These students are very good at looking to others for the processes they use in problem solving and replicating those processes if they think it will give them results
- Students are very good at "shallow" learning, not necessarily understanding an answer they have received as long as it fits the need
- Many students don't understand the information they collect, nor are they interested in doing so as long as it doesn't hurt their work