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SCHOOL-IT  July 2005

SCHOOL-IT July 2005

Subject:

Student ICT : Beyond IM and MP3 ?

From:

Steve Cavrak <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 11 Jul 2005 16:26:02 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (133 lines)

More Than IM and MP3
Inside Higher Ed
July 6, 2005
http://insidehighered.com/news/2005/07/06/ets

Many students these days prefer instant messaging to phone calls, and
music downloads (legal or otherwise) to music purchases. But
students’ agility with those technologies doesn’t necessarily mean
they can tell a quality online source from an advertisement. Or that
they know how to use e-mail to communicate effectively.

Measuring those skills — and helping colleges plan curricular and
library offerings accordingly — is the goal of a new standardized
test that the Educational Testing Service is now opening up to
widespread use, with the first such administration scheduled for
January. The exam — which is designed for placement and evaluation,
not admissions — has been in a testing period with a small group of
colleges.

The Information and Communication Technology Assessment, [1] as the
test is known, can be scored individually and colleges can receive
aggregate scores. The test was first announced last year, but a
number of changes have been made based on early administrations of
the exam.

Terry Egan, project manager for the test for ETS, said that the exam
grew out of a sense among educators that there is more than a
“digital divide,” but a “proficiency divide” in which students “have
access to technology, but don’t know how to use it.”

The test was originally envisioned as one that colleges might give
rising juniors, but ETS is now exploring the possibility of offering
multiple versions of the test: a short version that might be given to
entering freshmen and a longer version for later in students’ college
careers. The questions on the short version would take three to four
minutes each to complete, and would test students’ ability at using e-
mail technology, downloading attachments, combining different
technology forms in e-mail, describing findings, and comparing
reliable and unreliable sources of information. Sample questions are
available on the ETS Web site. [2]

The short version takes 45 minutes, and the longer version, which
also features more complicated problems that take 10-15 minutes each,
takes 90 minutes. Students would be told if their skills were in the
high, middle or low range, and a college could find out what
percentage of its own test takers were in various categories.
Students who take the longer form could also find out how they did in
different subcategories, such as integrating information or
evaluating information.

Test takers will use a simulated Web environment to take the test. On
the fake Web site, ETS will have both reliable and unreliable sources
of information. Egan said that there will be no single right answer
for any of the questions, and that students would be evaluated with
the idea that there are a range of answers, showing various levels of
Web savvy.

A sample question on an ETS research paper about the project tells a
student that his sister fell during a tennis match and has been
diagnosed with a rupture of her anterior cruciate ligament. The
student needs to identify and describe reliable sources of
information about treatment and rehabilitation options.

Egan stressed that the test should not be thought of strictly as a
technology test. “This is really an assessment of cognitive skills.
Many students have technical skills, but not the cognitive skills for
using technology. We are trying to see if a student knows how to
legally and ethically use information,” she said.

Colleges can use the test, she said, to place students in appropriate
programs or to measure the general skills of students so that faculty
members and librarians can know the skill levels of the student
population. Because the test is being largely designed as a
diagnostic tool, she said, colleges will pay for the test, not
students. Currently, the price is $25 a test, but that may change.
Egan said that a version of the test may also be developed as a work-
force competency test that students might take (and pay for themselves).

The University of California at Los Angeles is one of the pilot
colleges using the test. Stephanie Brasley, information literacy
coordinator for the main undergraduate library at UCLA, said she saw
the test as a way to measure what students know and don’t know about
how to use technology. “If this was just a technology test, we
wouldn’t have been interested. What’s important is that it’s a test
of students’ skills and information problem solving and working in a
digital environment.”

Brasley said that she finds many UCLA students know how to use
technology for entertainment, but not much more. She hopes to use
aggregate scores from the test to map out a strategy for adding to
students’ skills.

“Students can IM all day and they can game really well, but if you
think of the academic environment and the professional environment,
those aren’t the skills,” she added.

-— Scott Jaschik


[1] http://www.ets.org/ictliteracy/index.html

[2] ICT Literacy Demo, http://www.ets.org/ictliteracy/demo.html



Comments

We struggle with this issue constantly in regards to our Intro to
Sociology research paper. Even though the assignment says, NO web
sites, students will try to use them; even though we go to the
library and walk through the various databases, they will “google”
and take as gospel what they find. The other thing you can see
instantly in a student’s writing is when they have spent significant
time text messaging or in chat rooms...they don’t capitalize proper
nouns, write out words, etc, and they can’t see that it is incorrect.
I love my email and computer as well as the next person, but there
are still “rules” to quality, reliable resources and correct,
understandable communication.

-- Jody, adjunct instructor, at 9:37 am EDT on July 6, 2005



WHAT ABOUT ONLINE UNIVERSITIES?

I’m wondering if any of the pilot schools taking the test are online
universities. It would be interesting to compare the scores of
students from online and residential colleges to see if getting
online each day to go to school is more beneficial in making students
more computer savvy. I would guess that it helps a great deal.

-- Jacquie, at 3:53 pm EDT on July 6, 2005

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