‘I’ve stuck to the path I’m afraid’ by Kate Orton-Johnson in this month’s British Journal of Educational Technology reports on the non-use of online blended learning material by undergraduates at a UK university.
It highlights that “Voluntary non-use or ‘Internet rejecters’ are rarely acknowledged or recognised in the literature” and if it is, it’s usually associated with social / technological exclusion. However, as is pointed out this is not really a factor for university undergraduates with easy access to campus IT provision.
The key issues are summarised in the following extract (my emphasis):
Alternative sources of information, considered more appropriate, convenient and reliable and the perception of online materials as ‘non academic’ underpinned the students’ non-use of the online materials. This in part reflected an instrumental and task-oriented approach to their academic goals, where extra resources or activities were seen as additional and external to the core activity of producing assessed work, but also related to issues of trust and authenticity in their construction of academic knowledge.
An anxiety consistently expressed by the respondents was their lack of confidence in their own academic ability in their transition from A-level student to first year undergraduate student and a concern, as undergraduates, with understanding what was expected of them at university level.
During this period of adjustment and apprenticeship, set reading lists were viewed as an anchor that would structure and guide their work. This adherence to the reading lists had a direct impact on their use of online resources that were not viewed as a primary source of academic information. Accordingly non-use of the online materials was related to the perception that reading lists, books and journal articles were more important, relevant and ‘academic’ and formed the core of what they should be doing.
Nothing too surprising I guess but it’s good to see it backed up with qualitative data!