UNIVERSITY STUDENTS INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) COMPETENCE AND ITS IMPACT ON LEARNING
The present study analyses the university of Deusto (Spain) students' ICT competence together with the uses of ICT in academic activities and its impact on students learning. It also analyses students believes and perceptions on some aspects of the ethics of technology, such as privacy and security, and the uses and value they attach to social networks.
The research sample includes 520 students belonging to five different university degrees. A questionnaire composed of 81 items was designed and structured around four categories or variables: student ICT identification, use of ICT for academic activities an its impact on learning, ICT ethics and attached value and use of social networks by students. Data was collected during the second week of May 2009.
Results show that students knowledge of general tools is not generalized, being word processor the tool they know best, followed by presentation tools. Important differences among students are shown though, there being students who do not know how to use general purpose tools at all.
A significant number of students know and use ALUD virtual platform at different courses although there are still some in which it is not used at all. Students value virtual platforms positively as communication facilitators, but not as opportunities to improve their creative and innovative capacity. At this respect, differences among degrees are observed, which may inform of different pedagogical uses by teachers. In general, platforms do not motivate students. The university library, particularly the digital catalogue is an under-used resource by students. Students have high expectations about the impact of ICT on their learning, overall what has to do with communication activities. Students perceive teachers need to improve their ICT competence, and invest more time and effort to support students in their use.
The present study confirms that more than half of the study sample do not know neither use Web 2.0 tools. Many students seem to use them just because they are available, without knowing why and what for, and a deeper reflection on the reasons and effects of their use is missed. Ethical concerns are little present in relation to the use of technology, at least regarding the issues approached in this study such as the selection of one or another technology, privacy and security.
Finally, data shows the importance of taking part in social networks through internet. Just one out of ten students stands aside of them. Such participation generates diverse questions about types of information provided by each person, the limits of privacy, honesty of what is said, and so on. Students who invest most time on the use of social networks show different attitudes than the rest, with more concerns but more satisfied at the same time.
As a conclusion, the present study shows that the process of incorporating ICT as a learning tool in the university context is a slow and complex process. Although great progress has been made regarding infrastructures and hardware aspects, together with the development and use of a virtual platform, teacher training is still a challenge to face. ICT demands teachers the development of new functions and the use of new educational methodologies to promote the development of students' competences and autonomy, therefore new teacher training objectives and approaches need to be faced to respond to the European Higher Education Area demands.