It is important to understand how students cope with the sudden increase in IT demands learning during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
By Dr. Shalini Chandra
COVID-19-impacted social-distancing measures forced an abrupt switch to online learning in most universities, putting immense pressure on the students to creatively adapt to new ways of online education. This sudden shift in learning mode created the demand for enhanced IT competency that added to the obstacles faced by many learners during a challenging time.
It is important to understand how students cope with the sudden increase in IT demands learning during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Such an understanding would help design pathways to encourage positive student appraisals of online learning environments, thus contributing to the student learning effectiveness.
Learning effectiveness through available IT tools for student learning
The COVID-19 induced lockdown presented a setting in which students were not required to have formal training in order to use IT to gain knowledge. Because of the sudden nature of the crisis, students in most situations were pushed to explore the different IT tools on their own to enrich their learning effectiveness. Learning effectiveness implies a learner’s holistic development and thus epitomizes both productivity-in-learning and creativity-in-learning. Productivity-in-learning implies productivity in achieving the intended learning goals using IT tools. It has to do with the quantity as well as the quality of student online learning. IT tools can help achieve the productivity-in-learning objectives by providing more information at a lower cognitive cost, easing out the limits of time and space for learning, and providing greater control to students over the learning process. Productivity-in-learning is described as the extent of help IT tools provide to the students in the constrained COVID-19 environment to achieve intended learning in terms of quality and quantity. Creativity-in-learning, on the other hand, implies the creative procedures that students adopt in their learning process with IT tools. Students can use IT creatively to enhance their learning experience within the context of their idiosyncratic academic constraints in online learning environments. Creativity-in-learning is primarily discretionary and can be considered as the learner enacted procedures directed at fulfilling the learners’ specific goals. Creativity-in-learning is described as the extent of help IT tools provide to the students in the constrained COVID-19 environment to creatively enrich their learning process. Individual-level student traits are important to understand learner adaptation to technology-mediated learning environments by coping with the related IT demands.
IT mindfulness for enhanced learning effectiveness
IT mindfulness is an individual-level trait that enhances student learning effectiveness by providing a self-regulatory coping mechanism in the face of enhanced IT demands for learning. Individuals can learn IT mindfulness through management interventions and activities like training and role modelling. IT mindfulness is an IT-specific individual-level trait under which users learn to train their attention on the present by focusing on operational details. It induces the interest to investigate and learn from new features to gain further insight and improve their performance.
Mindful IT users are hence, quick to notice any disruption in their environment and identify emerging opportunities. They can stay motivated and engaged in IT-mediated learning by improvising their existing skillset and knowledge base, thereby quickly adapting alternative solutions.
How does IT mindfulness among students enhance their learning effectiveness?
Individual variances influence how people think about stressful situations, resulting in various behaviours. Negative appraisals are made when demands are perceived to thaw personal development, growth, and well-being. Such evaluation of loss, fear, or harm is akin to distress. Positive appraisals, on the other hand, are given when demands are seen as promoting personal development, progress, as well as psychological well-being. Techno eustress refers to positive appraisals given in response to increased IT demands in technology-related settings. In the case of positive evaluations as techno eustress, the IT demands are perceived as a challenge rather than a barrier, allowing for an individual’s well-being.
Positive appraisals of enhanced COVID-19 influenced IT demands by student learners are caused by the individual-level trait of IT mindfulness, leading in improved learning effectiveness. The IT mindfulness trait in learners fosters their techno eustress perceptions, which in turn influences their online learning effectiveness. Online learners’ IT mindfulness, a dynamic trait, is expected to regulate the learner’s appraisals causing them to evaluate IT demands as techno eustress, influencing their learning effectiveness.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted into an increase in the adoption of IT tools for student learning, highlighting the need to expand study into the role of technology in education. Educational institutions need to sharpen not just their technological infrastructure but also plan to enhance the IT mindfulness of their students. Educational institutions must actively train students to inculcate IT mindfulness to reduce any disruptions in online learning on student well-being, creativity, and productivity.
It is imperative that educational institutions focus their efforts on redesigning their instructional methods so that they utilize collaborative IT features, as well as IT-enabled engagement techniques in order to evoke enough techno-eustress with potential users. In comparison to just delivering a physical lesson via video, a method such as this would facilitate better inclusion of students. Introducing such new teaching methods that enhance students’ awareness of IT will help technology-driven learning become more enjoyable and effective.
Businesses and organizations undergoing rapid digital transformation due to the coronavirus pandemic should attempt to enhance the IT mindfulness of employees, partners, and users who are experiencing a sudden step-up in their IT demands. Such features are expected to calibrate the IT mindfulness of its users so that they may develop the required sensitivity to assess the value of new technologies before using them.
(The author is Associate Professor (information systems) of SP Jain School of Global Management. Views expressed are personal and not necessarily those of financialexpress.com.)