However, a bigger concern is for those services where I was able to track usage was that after the course ended, so did student use.
This experience mirrors ours, though I only have anecdote to support it. Courses where PebblePad is used do not seem to engender an extended adoption of the platform for ongoing personal/professional use. We do not expect students to want to take the VLE with them and it isn’t designed for that. The wiki has a liminal status. It could be adopted as a personal web-builder if a student were keen to. We do not promote this and there does not seem to be any pent up demand waiting to pile in to Confluence. It gets used when it is designed into the curriculum and not when its not. But my question is does it matter? And, if it does, when and why? It is safe to assume most students have web presence via FaceBook or mySpace or other networks. Similarly many are using IM services and nearly all text.
I think the key issue here is appropriate information (or academic) literacy for a networked, social-media era (not just the “digital age”).
This is what I admire about A. J.’s efforts: the focus on critical information seeking and sharing in communities. But will the communities and tools persist after the module ends? Should they? Maybe we could think of each module as a test pilot flight. I suspect – and would be interested to know more – that students do slowly develop habits of information literacy that grows from module to module even if they do not notice it themselves and even if the tools change. Disciplines are reluctant to give up core subject-learning time to the development of explicit but generic “graduate attributes” but I think this is what we have to do if we want to develop practices that cross modules. I have no doubt that a student will be better equipped in year three if they started using a (social) bookmarking tool and a reference manager in year one. I am thinking of focussing on these in the next running of our PCTHE. If we could get students to adopt these two practices and support them across all their modules there should be a positive gain. Then we could throw other tools at them from time to time, all of which should exercise their general ability to use applications and develop digital literacies (see http://rworld2.brookesblogs.net/2009/10/06/digital-literacies-at-brookes-pcthe/) even if they do not adopt every tool they are asked to use.