UK: Students fashion their own education

In David Melville's last year as vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, where he worked until September 2007, he found the style of students' emails to him had changed, writes Harriet Swain in The Guardian. "Hi Dave, how are you today? Just thought I'd let you know what I'm doing," they would read. Or: "Sorry you're going. I've had a good time here and that would probably have had something to do with you, so thanks."

In some ways the informality was shocking, says Melville, but it was actually a sign of how students' understanding of their role has changed. "They have a more democratic view of the institution they are in, and they feel free to comment."

A Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, chaired by Melville, was set up earlier this year to explore this profound change in attitudes, as well as the more day-to-day challenges posed by new technology. The inquiry has three main aims. The first is to explore the nature and extent of young people's use of web 2.0 technologies; the second, to find out how this has affected attitudes towards learning; and the third, to identify how institutions are and should be responding.
Full report on The Guardian site