|FOCUS ON THE FACULTY
INCREASING TECHNOLOGY LITERACY AMONG C OF C STUDENTS
|By Kristin Weber
Lancie Affonso (left) with a group of his students
A movement is underway on the College of
Charleston campus to ensure that students are better prepared for
today's technology driven world. Basic software programs such as
and Power Point should not seem like foreign languages to many
students. Lancie Affonso, an
instructor in the computer science department, is working to raise
the bar on the level of information technology every student should
To combat this problem College of
Charleston President Lee Higdon proposed that "the College needed a
clear and shared understanding of student outcomes in order to carry
out Information Technology planning appropriate to the
Higdon would like to see each individual
department come up with a timeline of technology skills a student
should have mastered by sophomore, junior, or senior year.
Affonso is working in conjunction with the school's Faculty Educational Technology Committee to set up a system to judge and excel the student skills. Affonso conducted pilot information technology tests in the summer of 2003 to evaluate the proficiency of C of C students. Affonso's research involves identifying a suitable test to judge the students, to evaluate the test giving process and results, and to make recommendations.
The research is designed to judge if a students' information technology knowledge is sufficient for the college level. Students will have to seek additional help to improve their skills if they are found to be behind. Taking basic computer classes at the college is just the “tip of the iceberg,” says Affonso, and mastering certain computer skills will save time for both the students and the faculty.
The pilot tests were performed at the students’ personal rate and included feedback to help students understand where improvement is needed. These tests were done in an online environment. Affonso believes this method will benefit the students greatly, going beyond a basic multiple choice test and actually having the students apply their knowledge. The plan is that similar tests will be given to all incoming students starting with the Class of 2008.
Affonso believes students with computer skills have a much easier time at college, while students not as skilled may struggle with a simple concept or simple software, often wasting their time battling with the computer and not putting necessary effort into their work.
The main goals of the project are to enhance productivity skills, technology communication skills, research skills and ethical decision making. For example, Affonso says, a general understanding is needed by students-- and everyone-- about copyright laws as they pertain to electronic materials. Plagiarism issues and problems due to the ease of accessing information-- and the ethical/legal ignorance of many of those doing the accessing-- is a growing concern at schools on all levels across the country and world.
Affonso and others at the College of Charleston are optimistic that the hard drive to higher computer and technology literacy levels will be successful. If so, class time will potentially become more effective as fewer and fewer professors will have to waste time going over basic technology skills. And students will finally be able to call a truce with their computers and focus more on their homework.