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Are Students Tech-Savvy or Tech-Struggling? What Students Want Educators to Know

young black woman looking at a computer screen

A misconception about 21st-century students is that they are proficient with all technology, even in the absence of clear instructions. Many students know how to use online platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook for fun, but have no idea how to leverage them for academic or professional use.

In an article in the Times Higher Education, Elizabeth Losh says universities must stop presuming that all students are tech-savvy. Many educators assume that young people are digital natives and they should know how to use technology. Gen Z may be savvy about using social media personally. However, they are not as savvy about how to use tech tools academically or professionally.

I don't appreciate when professors just assume because we are young we know how to use this stuff...we are learning with y'all. - Anonymous Xavier Student

In feedback from some Xavier students, they stated that their professors assume they know how to use Brightspace when in fact they do not. To better serve our students, faculty should not assume students are digital natives. Instructors can help students learn the basics for the tools that will be used in their course by providing them links to how-to resources.

Did you know that we have a list of Brightspace how-to resources for students on our CAT FooD blog? You can find Brightspace how-to resources at the following links:

Additionally, here's an example of how you might include how-to instructions for a discussion forum in your Brightspace course:

example of a Q&A discussion forum
Example of Q&A discussion forum with instructions on how to post to the forum

In this example, instructions for the Q&A forum are provided along with instructions on how to post to the forum as well as a link to a how-to video.

Including information on how to use course tools will go a long way to helping students to be successful in your course.

Image credit: image by Aspen from Nappy

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