How students study in wireless coffee shops: personal learning environments
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Since the boom of wireless internet a growing number of students have been traveling to local coffee shops for routine studying. A study was conducted to seek a better understanding of behaviors common in college students studying in wireless coffee shops. There are 12 coffee shops within one mile of the University of Missouri-Columbia's campus. For this study four shops, commonly used by university students, were chosen to host the study. During this study we mapped student's virtual behaviors through Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Maps. Virtual behaviors are the sites and programs that one might visit during their time on a computer in order of when they visit them, such as; 1st, email; 2nd; Facebook, 3rd, dictionary; and so on until the end of their computer session. PLE's are internet or software tools used by students to take control of and manage their own learning, sites like Wikipedia, blogs, or even social networking sites. The goal was to understand why students study outside of the designed spaces at home or campus; identifying the student's processes and the order in which they go about learning activities; what types of students come to coffee shops to study; and what implications these have to specific physical features. Through 51 interviews and 98 surveys, the PLE's revealed the order and emphasis of virtual behaviors conducted by students. These behaviors were then organized in an order of hierarchy based on the frequency and intensity of activities. The activities were also categorized in the sequence of their occurrence. Students spent more time on music and studying than any other activity both at home and at the coffee shop. The most important aspects for the choice of coffee shops are location, people density, noise, and internet access. The first activities students participate in while studying all involve the internet with music background. As for the physical spaces students preferred lower lighting with task lights instead of a larger space equally lit. Students also preferred a firm chair in order not to get too comfortable.