College in the Digital Age

EDTECH CHALLENGE | by Jesse M. Langley

Technology has completely transformed the way we approach everyday problems, from finding directions when we’re lost to calculating the appropriate tip to leave at a restaurant. For older generations, the advancement of technology is often viewed merely as a recreational benefit. But younger generations tend to be better acquainted with modern technology—to the extent that many of them rarely go longer than 24 hours without using some sort of technological device. This widespread familiarity and attachment to technology begs the often controversial question of whether technology should be integrated into an academic setting to accommodate this generation’s reliance on the medium.

The Marriage of Technology and Education

Based on recent surveys, it appears that students are heading in the direction of a digital nation whether instructors approve of it or not.  Ninety-three percent of students consult Google and other search engines when they have an academic problem instead of going to the library. This is due in part to the fact that the library isn’t always accessible; many students take their search online because the libraries near them are closed. To the dismay of academic instructors, Wikipedia was reported to be the most-used research resource.

Many instructors have chosen to accept the integration of technology into their students’ lives and are finding ways to use technological resources in their teaching.  A Pearson Learning Solutions study revealed that ninety percent of the faculty in higher education reported to regularly use social media in the courses they are teaching. Twenty percent of faculty claimed to have assigned students the task of commenting or posting on social media websites for academic purposes. These methods not only aid in academic discussion and student learning, but also teach students how these resources can be used for positive ends, such as intellectual growth.

YouTube U.

According to the well-known networking giant Cisco, approximately 136 universities in the United States have an educational channel on YouTube. This statistic aligns with data reported by SEO.com, which reveals that eight out of ten faculty reported using an online video in class to aid in student learning. Since many students are accustomed to receiving information from several different platforms, using digital videos in the classroom is usually more effective for keeping students engaged in a learning environment.

In addition to instructors warming up to the idea of integrating technology into the classroom, the majority of them also approve of the efficacy of classes conducted exclusively online as well. Two of three academic leaders reported that they did not consider online learning to be inferior to face-to-face instruction. Considering that there are more than six million students taking at least one online course, instructors are not the only ones who are convinced of the benefits of online learning.

With the widespread integration of technology into higher education comes an increase in positive opinions regarding online bachelor degree programs. Since scheduling conflicts can often interfere with a prospective student’s ability to attend an institution of higher learning, the growing accessibility and credibility of online programs could potentially lead to more and more students taking advantage of these accommodating resources and acquiring a high quality education. As a result, the entire country can benefit from a better educated population and increased prosperity for the future to come.

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Jesse M. Langley is a contributor for EdTech Digest covering challenges educators face integrating technology into education and solutions that make sense. Write to: jessemlangley@gmail.com

 

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