Digital proficiency and digital inclusion: Comparison between students of computer science, public relations and engineering
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New information and communication technologies may be useful for providing more in-depth knowledge to students in many ways, whether through online multimedia educational material, or through online debates with colleagues, teachers and other area professionals in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. This paper focuses on participation in online discussion in e-learning courses for promoting learning. Although an important theoretical aspect, an analysis of literature reveals there are few studies evaluating the personal and social aspects of online course users in a quantitative manner. This paper aims to introduce a method for diagnosing inclusion and digital proficiency and other personal aspects of the student through a case study comparing Information System, Public Relations and Engineering students at a public university in Brazil. Statistical analysis and analysis of variances (ANOVA) were used as the methodology for data analysis in order to understand existing relations between the components of the proposed method. The survey methodology was also used, in its online format, as a research instrument. The method is based on using online questionnaires that diagnose digital proficiency and time management, level of extroversion and social skills of the students. According to the sample studied, there is no strong correlation between digital proficiency and individual characteristics tied to the use of time, level of extroversion and social skills of students. The differences in course grades for some components are partly due to subject 'Introduction to Economics' being offered to freshmen in Public Relations, whereas subject 'Economics in Engineering' is offered in the final semesters of Engineering and Information Systems courses. Therefore, the difference could be more tied to the respondent's age than to the course. Information Systems students were observed to be older, with access to computers and Internet at the workplace, compared to the other students who access the Internet more often from home. This paper presents a pilot study aimed at conducting a diagnosis that permits proposing actions for information and communication technology to contribute towards student education. Three levels of digital inclusion are described as a scale to measure whether information technology increases personal performance and professional knowledge and skills. This study may be useful for other readers interested in themes related to education in engineering. © 2013 IEEE.
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