Europe neglects teaching of ICT

August 29, 2003

A European investigation of students' information and communications skills has buried the myth that men are more confident than women about using computers.

The Survey of European Universities Skills in Information and Communication Technology for Staff and Students (Seussis) also says that there is no difference in skills in the north and in the south of Europe.

But it found students are relying on friends and family to develop these skills because universities are not giving enough support.

The project is a partnership of seven members of the Coimbra Group of European universities. It is based on ten years' data collated by Edinburgh University and an investigation of about 9,200 new students and almost 3,500 students nearing graduation.

Jeff Haywood of the Scottish Centre for Research into Online Learning and Assessment, at Edinburgh, said: "The lack of gender difference was unexpected as was the lack of north-south divide. Despite the very different school backgrounds, what students said they could do was very consistent."

More than a quarter use ICT daily, with almost half using it one to three times a week, much higher than the new students say had been the case at school.

But while Seussis found the students seem to have the skills employers will want, they are mainly self-taught. New students have less experience than established students with, for example, PowerPoint presentations. The report says this suggests that they acquire these skills at university.

But most students feel developing ICT skills is not integrated into their courses, even when the university itself claims this is its strategy.

"Few staff felt that student ICT skills development was part of their role as academics," the report says.

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