Technology, Education and Arab Youth in the UAE 2013


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Empirical research into digital technology use by Emirati tertiary students, and implications for library services in the region. Data collected 2011/12.

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Technology, Education and Arab Youth in the UAE 2013

  1. 1. Digital Natives in the UAE? A report of research into digital technology use by Emirati tertiary students, and implications for academic library services in the region. Janet Martin © 2013
  2. 2. The Digital Natives debate * Are innately skilful, expert, confident, intuitive when dealing with technology * Have a short attention span * Prefer non-linear, visual, interactive, collaborative learning * Can multitask * Have experienced brain changes
  3. 3. Digital Natives in Education * Education needs to radically change to remain relevant to students and society * Education which is not technology-based is boring/obsolete * They expect digital technologies to be an integrated part of education * “Natives” vs “Immigrants”
  4. 4. A “piece of the evidence” Policy decisions in education and in libraries in the UAE should be based upon the findings of valid and empirical investigation, rather than on anecdotal discussions.
  5. 5. Are young Emiratis Digital Natives?
  6. 6. Research in the UAE Mixed method approach used 2011/12 1. Online survey (N=587) * Sample of Emirati nationals, attending tertiary education in the UAE, 18-25 yrs of age * Involved multiple institutions, all geographical locations, all disciplines, ages, genders 2. Interviews (N=15) * Follow-up interviews also ensured very broad representation within Emirati students.
  7. 7. Major findings of research in the UAE The UAE is technologically well established, and tertiary Emirati students are generally well connected at home (80% broadband) and at university (100% broadband)
  8. 8. Interview comments: “I am always wired – I used to carry a BB [BlackBerry], iPod, iPhone. I haven’t bought the iPad yet. The BlackBerry has internet as well. I have laptop… everything.”
  9. 9. Interview comments: “I didn’t use a computer before I came here [to university]. In my last year of high school I started using a computer. Before that we didn’t have, because we didn’t need it, so my parents
  10. 10. Major findings of research in the UAE Most students have basic technology usage patterns (e.g. little use of Web 2.0 or content creation)
  11. 11. Interview comments: “I got a Blackberry, and iPhone, laptop. I write notes, read emails, write messages, check my calendar. I search all the time. I always Google things up, YouTube and such things. I used to shop online but not now.”
  12. 12. Major findings of research in the UAE Students have VERY high self-reported skills and confidence when using digital technologies
  13. 13. Interview comments: “I have everything Googled… You just can’t live without Google, and whatever you want to know, just type it”
  14. 14. Week (2011): “A confusion by people of all ages between a wider digital competence, and the communications and entertainment competence, of young people”
  15. 15. Major findings of research in the UAE EDUCATION * Technology is highly valued – most important reason to use it is to “achieve better results” * Internet is the primary source of academic and non-academic information * Tertiary institutions are well placed to meet student needs and developments in technology
  16. 16. Interview comments: “Live without the Internet? I could not do that.” “It’s really important for me I think. The life without the Internet is like, … I don’t know how to tell you,… is like the car without
  17. 17. Major findings of research in the UAE EDUCATION * Use of digital technologies is not well established in many UAE schools – both private and public. * Transition to laptop universities and colleges is not an easy one for many students
  18. 18. Interview comments: “Some students couldn’t even move a mouse” “Somehow we knew about the laptops but we didn’t know that we were going to use it that much. We didn’t know that we have to use it
  19. 19. Interview comments: “What happens when students who haven’t had a computer come to university? They fail and they leave. They were like… What is this? It’s a completely new thing for them.”
  20. 20. Major findings of research in the UAE EDUCATION Variation identified in student confidence with faculty skill and confidence with technologies
  21. 21. Interview comments: “Some of them … use the PowerPoint slide. Sorry, they’re boring! They just read the slides so I think they didn’t use the advantage of technology.”
  22. 22. Major findings of research in the UAE Consideration of the cultural and socio-economic context within which technological changes have occurred was an integral part of this research
  23. 23. Are young Emiratis Digital Natives? Yes.... and No.
  24. 24. What can academic libraries in the UAE take from this research?
  25. 25. Research in the Library World? American Library Association (ALA) Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) OCLC Research Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) PEW Research Center
  26. 26. Research in the Library World? * Changes to information * Changes to general characteristics of younger scholars * Research characteristics of young people as they affect library services
  27. 27. Conclusions
  28. 28. This research has documented that most Emirati tertiary students are wired and ready! There is one of the best infrastructures for digital technology access in the world. Emirati students are not a homogenous group.
  29. 29. However... Emirati students are likely to overestimate their research skills, and will require more IL support than ever before.
  30. 30. Emirati students have not embraced more advanced technology applications, and few are avid content contributors.
  31. 31. Special Libraries Association Arabian Gulf Chapter Abu Dhabi, April 2013 ©Janet Martin, MEd Librarian, researcher and consultant
  32. 32. References Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011. (2010). Dubai, UAE: Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and The United Nations Development Programme / Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS). Association of College and Research Libraries. (2006). Changing roles of academic and research libraries Retrieved 27 February, 2013, from Combes, B. (2008). The Net Generation: Tech-savvy or lost in virtual space? Paper presented at the International Association of School Librarianship., Berkeley, CA. Combes, B. (2009). Digital Natives or digital refugees? Why we have failed Gen Y? Paper presented at the International Association of School Librarianship., Abano Terme (Padua), Italy. Connaway, L., Dickey, T., & OCLC Research. (2010). The digital information seeker: Report of the findings from selected OCLC, RIN, and JISC user behaviour projects. Bristol, UK: JISC. Dahlstrom, E., deBoor, T., Grunwald, P., & Vockley, M. (2011). ECAR national study of undergraduate students and information technology 2011. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Drake, M. A. (2010). Academic Library Challenges. Searcher, 18(9), 17-21,52-53,55. Hendrix, J. (2010). Checking out the future: Perspectives from the library community on information technology and 21st century libraries. Washington, DC: American Library Association. Livingstone, S. (2012). Critical reflections on the benefits of ICT in education. Oxford Review of Education, 38(1), 9-24.
  33. 33. References Smith, A. (2008). The research library in the 21st century: Collecting, preserving and making accessible resources for scholarship. Core functions of the research library in the 21st century. Washington DC: Council on Library and Information Resources. Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L., & Purcell, K. (2013). Library services in the digital age. Washington, DC: PEW Research Center. Zimerman, M. (2012). Digital natives, searching behavior and the library. New Library World, 113(3/4), 174-201. Prensky, M. (2001a). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. Prensky, M. (2001b). Digital natives, digital immigrants, Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6), 1-9. Selwyn, N. (2013). Education in a digital world: Global perspectives on technology and education. New York: Routledge. Waters, J. (2011). Will the real digital native please stand up? Retrieved 7 October, 2012, from Week, S. (2011). Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants: How do we rate? Research in progress. Paper presented at the World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (ELEARN) 2011, Chesapeake, VA. Full PhD dissertation: Martin, J. (2013). Technology, education and Arab youth in the 21st century: A study of the UAE. (Doctoral dissertation), University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Retrieved from