The results of the 2008 Student Preferences for Learning With Digital Technology Survey were released Sept. 10 and are posted on the academic affairs page within the college’s intranet.
The survey was conducted by the college’s planning and assessment committee to help meet e-technology initiatives in the college’s strategic plan. It started with a focus group of four dental students elected by their classes. The group identified critical issues in using electronic technology for instruction and communication at the college.
Based on the results of that focus group and numerous faculty discussions, a survey was constructed that requested information about students’ experience level with computers, digital equipment used, frequency utilizing and effectiveness of college resources, preferences for learning in various environments, the need for standardization of e-course materials and preferred modes of communication. The survey was administered online in May to all dental students and dental hygiene students.
More than 90 percent of students said they were average or experienced users of computers. Nearly a quarter of students owned both a laptop and desktop computer. More than 90 percent of students also said they had high speed Internet access and owned MP3 players.
Regarding specific e-learning resources, about two-thirds of students found them effective for learning. They cited virtual microscopy, digital skull atlas and digital tooth atlas as the most effective resources.
“A clear theme of the survey results was that digital resources should not replace the human touch,” says Dr. Ann McCann, director of planning and assessment, and one of the report’s authors. “Many students expressed face-to-face interaction is still their favorite form of communication.”
In fact, 74 percent of students wanted online materials to supplement but not replace lectures. More than 60 percent preferred printed textbooks over digital texts.
McCann says the survey results are being closely examined by college administrators. She says the results will not only help administrators allocate the college’s resources; they also show that some of the college’s strategic initiatives for e-learning should move faster, particularly the need to centralize e-resources.
Currently e-resources are available at several electronic locations, such as the college’s intranet, the college’s public share drive, and on Blackboard or WebCT. Nearly all students – 98 percent – said the need for a central location for digital course materials was important.
“Students want one place where everything is, one way to submit and obtain information,” McCann says.
In addition to reviewing the survey results at HSC-BCD for planning purposes, an abstract about the survey has been submitted to the American Dental Education Association for possible presentation at the 2009 annual meeting in Phoenix.