This study elicits preferences for multimedia in the classroom for students and faculty members in agricultural economics. Employing an Internet-based conjoint ranking survey, the results show that students prefer multimedia instructional tools over a traditional chalkboard/whiteboard lecture format while faculty members do not. Neither students nor faculty members are enthusiastic about electronic textbooks, and students will accept them only if they save $80. Finally, preferences for multimedia are shown to differ with students who self-report differing note-taking abilities, preferences for chalkboard lectures, and the need for an engaging class. Successful multimedia adoption requires appropriate use and lowering costs for students
Conclusions And Recommendations
There has been much enthusiasm for multimedia tools in the academic literature and on campus among faculty members who seek to potentially improve their teaching and to engage students. The current cohort of undergraduates, the "Gen Next" students up to the age of 28, is more technology savvy than any generation before (Taylor, 2006). A 2006 Pew survey found: "Their embrace of new technology has made them uniquely aware of its advantages and disadvantages." (Pew Research Center, 2007)
The results of this research show that students may not be fully prepared to finance the multimedia classroom as anecdotal evidence of the "Gen Next" assumes. Although students value certain types of multimedia used in the classroom, they are not willing to pay for all types. Web-based study guides, electronic notes, and in-class videos were significantly valued by students and, to a certain degree, these multimedia tools have been in use for many years in many classrooms across the nation (Engle, 2007).
The multimedia tools not valued by students were electronic texts, clickers, and podcasts. These three multimedia tools are relatively new compared with the three significantly valued multimedia tools and have received a lot attention in the media and on college campuses. Even Congress has considered the use of electronic texts as a potential way to lower the rising costs of textbooks. The results clearly demonstrate that electronic texts are not valued by students since the WTP estimates were negative and statistically significant. However, students will accept electronic texts if they are offered at a drastic savings over current paper text prices. [snip].
Our results demonstrate that on average across the four schools sampled, students like textbooks they can hold in their hand and are not impressed with clickers or podcasts. [snip].
Ultimately, faculty members will choose texts and technologies best suited for the course content, size, and their own teaching style, so not all types of technology will suit all courses. Demand for these products, while consistent in direction among groups, differs in scale among students of different demographic groups, academic levels of performance, and learning experiences. The success of different technologies will depend on student engagement, which will involve more investment integrating technology with active learning. Inevitably a greater percentage of the faculty will adopt the newer multimedia forms over time, and perhaps other types of technology, but the pace of that adoption will depend on faculty and institutional investment in teaching and students' increased willingness to pay. Contrary to popular belief, traditional chalkboard and paper texts still have a place with economic students in the classroom.
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