Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Students Ready for More Tech in the Classroom

The latest CDW-G student survey on education technology found just 23% of those polled were satisfied with the way instructors use class time. Those who were satisfied tended to listen to fewer lectures and use technology more.

“I do learn more with a mixed style, where the class is opened up to group discussion,” said Hannah Davis, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was part of a student panel during the Learn Now, Lecture Later: The New College Experience session at the Campus Technology 2012 conference in Boston.

The report surveyed 1,015 students, faculty, and IT staff at the high school and college level last May and June. Technology is employed more in college classrooms than high school, with 74% of college students using digital content, 55% making use of smartphones, and 53% taking advantage of recorded lectures.

“I like having the lecture online, so I can pause it and rewind,” said panelist Mario Solorzano, a student at Arizona State University. He told of an English professor at ASU who uses Skype to connect with students after office hours and of a grad student who created a Facebook study group.

In addition to greater opportunities to use technology in the classroom, students say they would like to see digital formats become standardized and the price of e-books come down.

“I find e-books priced much the same as textbooks and can’t bring myself to buy it for the same price as a hardcover, even though I would find them beneficial,” said Tyler Hughes, a student at the University of Michigan.

There are plenty of other challenges for IT and faculty to work out. Andy Lausch, vice president of higher education at CDW-G and moderator of the student-panel session, pointed to budget constraints, class size, and time for professional development as the biggest obstacles. Another hurdle could be faculty mindset, since the survey also found that 88% of respondents view moving away from traditional lectures as a challenge.

“Students say classroom time is moving in the right direction, but they want a greater mix of learning models, with more hands-on assignments and more virtual learning,” said Lausch. 

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