Study: Tech Literacy Elusive Among Ostensibly Intelligent Professors

According to a study published Thursday by the School of Information, an advanced degree in any of a variety of fields does not provide a person with the skills required to operate YouTube, a projector, or other pieces of technology that are generally considered to be both incredibly intuitive and essential to modern education.

The study, in which researchers at the Ann Arbor campus observed 347 tenured or tenure-track professors, monitored the subjects’ attempts to integrate various pieces of technology into their lectures, ranking their success on a scale that, frankly, did not need to go beyond three.

Several incidents were shown to be the result of an unintended click of the “mute” button, one of which ended in a nervous breakdown followed almost immediately by resignation.

Lead researcher Laurie Singh observed a professor who was unable to successfully play a video embedded in his PowerPoint presentation, noting that after seven full minutes ham-handing the keyboard like a teenage boy trying to unclasp a bra, the professor “should at this point just hit the escape key, get out of full-screen mode, and regain his bearings.”

She added, “This guy has two Ph.D.’s, if you can believe it.”

A similar study, conducted last year, showed that with only minor training a majority of lower primates were indeed able to master the same technology, leading some to conclude that the monkeys should perhaps be conferred with honorary doctorates.

Post-study interviews of the subjects revealed that most had no trouble operating their home VHS players or flip-phones, indicating that the problem was specific to the types of devices and software most frequently used during instruction and commonly seen in the 21st century.

The study has so far gotten only limited publicity, as the researchers are still trying to figure out how to post it on their website and share it via Facebook.

Originally published: December 2012

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