Campus Technology and the Expectations Game
A new survey explores the question of whether U.S. universities are truly becoming 21st century campuses, such as utilizing distance learning or addressing the digital divide. Most interestingly, though, it sheds light on the high expectations students have about universities even before they apply to college. Can K-12 schools learn any lessons from it?
The study, commissioned by technology reseller CDW-G and conducted by O’Keeffe and Company earlier this year, surveyed more than 400 students, as well as over 600 faculty and IT support staff. Much of the report deals with the amount of technology and infrastructure available on campus, how often they’re being utilized and what expectations students and faculty have about using them.
Overall, campus networking infrastructure for wireless access is almost ubiquitous, with 96% of universities offering campus wifi. Similarly, three out of four campuses engaged in some form of distance learning, while six in ten offered students off-campus networking as well. The prevalence of wifi probably makes up for the fact that just under half of students said they could access a seat at a campus computer lab whenever they needed to.
Certain tools don’t seem to be utilized very often. According to the study, 91% of students don’t use any form of video conferencing, while 88% didn’t use Web conferencing. Nearly three-quarters of them had never used a wiki in the classroom, and a surprising 83% didn’t listen to podcasts. Having said that, they were still active users of technology in a personal capacity, with three out of four of them possessing a laptop – despite only one in eight campuses offering some type of one-to-one laptop program. Meanwhile, 60% of students used social networks like Facebook as part of their education.
Students were also asked what type of tool they would like to use the most on campus. The number one request was the ability to chat online with professors, requested by four out of 10 students surveyed. Unfortunately, only 23% of IT staff said that their campuses offered this in an official capacity. This desire to chat with professors probably isn’t a huge surprise, since two-thirds of students said they used digital technology to prepare for every class. In contrast, only 24% of them said they were using technology in those classrooms.
There also seems to be a disconnect between campus technology goals and implementation. For example, nearly nine in 10 faculty surveyed said they felt they were encouraged by administrators to use technology in their teaching and that it was essential to their success, yet only a third of them felt the tools had actually been fully integrated on campus. Similarly, 85% said their universities provided technology professional development, though half of them added that their biggest classroom challenge was not knowing how to use the technology as a part of their teaching.
It’s something the students are noticing. While 85% of students felt that mastering digital technology was important to their majors, 25% of students felt their professor’s lack of technology skills was the biggest impediment to reaching their own technology goals, and 31% complaining that their classrooms weren’t outfitted with technology. On top of that, more than 30% of students felt the #1 problem was outdated technology, or tools that just weren’t useful to their courses of study.
And it’s not just an issue that students discover when they arrive on campus. A sizeable majority of students surveyed said that a university’s use of technology was something that was important to them when they were considering what college to attend, including 73% of education majors, 78% of business majors and 89% of communications majors.
What does this tell us about these students? They have high expectations because they’re already users of technology. By the time they’re in high school, they’re on Facebook, using iPods, owning cell phones – all the stuff you expect of a typical teenager. But given how many of them are eager to find out about their prospective colleges’ technology use, as well as complain about the lack of effective use by their professors, it makes me wonder about how their high school experiences are setting those expectations. Are they frustrated because they fared better in high school, or because they were hoping they could finally get to a campus where technology was taken seriously?
Clearly these students are eager to embrace technology in their learning, because they’ve embraced it in pretty much every other aspect of their lives. What can K-12 be doing to better prepare these students for their college learning experiences when it comes to technology integration? Perhaps that should be the topic of CDW-G’s next survey. Just an idea. -andy
Filed under : Research