People say this generation is computer-savvy, etc, but—

Do people realize I have to tell my students how to make Word generate and place a footnote number? (Yes, I have seen hand-typed footnote numbers carefully and manually placed at the bottom of the page by hitting enter several times.) That they’ve never heard of page breaks? That I have to instruct them how to Save as RTF out of WordPerfect? That sometimes they seem to not know what an attachment is? That if a PDF doesn’t open in the browser, they have no clue that it might have downloaded to their desktop? That a student once asked if I could save a PDF as RTF to send it to him? Let’s not even think about the time I suggested students chart readings as they went along, and offered them a table as an example. Won’t do that again.

In one class, a student said “I don’t know how to print a title page without a page number on it.” And another student said, “well, I print the title page first, and then I add the page numbers and reprint the rest of the essay”. And he was a bit excited to share this information, clearly having solved a problem and wanting to help others with his solution. I have actually resorted to saying “I don’t care if your paper starts on page 3” when I asked them to submit a research paper in a single file prefaced by a title page and an abstract page.

These are largely middle-class students, by the way, many of them have laptops, and nearly all had computers growing up.

see also: The Salt Box on online assignments.