Class time is not infinite, so for many methods I have students carry out exercises using only one kind of software - after all, my goal is not to teach 'how to use software' but 'how to select, carry out and interpret simple statistical analysis'. Statistical methods get updated, reformatted and given new menus FAR less often than statistical software, and I'd like my class to have at least a fighting chance of having some usable, non-obsolete knowledge/skills (oh, who am I kidding - notes and handouts in a folder with barely a trace on the old grey matter) when they graduate.
For the final assignment, students are given a problem and some data, and have to work through the process of planning and carrying out a statistical analysis, using whichever software they choose. Fine. If they are particularly keen to use a specific piece of software (e.g. the one which came free with their computer, GCFS, so that they don't have to find pants and leave the house to go to a campus log-in point and access the expensive professional stuff for free, or pay the small licensing fee to install a student copy of same on their own computer), that sometimes means they need to work out how to do their chosen test, they can't just use the class notes.
This means my inbox is continually pinging with emails of the "I can't find out how to do Test in GCFS, it's not in the notes and I've googled and tried lots of links and I can't find anything!" kind. I try to reply in a positive, supportive, encouraging matter (out of principle, as well as because of the rapid approach of HappySheet day). But sometimes, when the first thing I find on googling the phrase "Test in GCFS" is a step by step walk through of the method, that's really hard.
I honestly don't think that it's always because they didn't try, sure some of the students are lazy little so-and-sos but many of them are hard working and earnest and were always good kids in school and bring an endearing straightforward honesty into university with them (in my student population, I get relatively few "but I worked on it for days!" comments when work gets a poor mark for being rushed, an "well I only started last night, of course it's rushed!" response is more normal). It's just… I don't know, if there isn't an app for it, they can't do it? If putting half of the word, misspelt, into google doesn't work, they don't have any idea what to do next?
Digital Natives my arse, as my northerly neighbours would say, more like Digital Numptys. Digital Tourists is perhaps kinder, but today, Numpty is the word!
-- Grumpy Academic