Higher education is in the middle of a technology makeover and CDW•G has the survey data to prove it.
According to responses to the technology company's Learn Now, Lecture Later survey, more students are bringing their own technology in the classroom and looking to leverage these devices for learning. Part of this shift means a move away from the sage-on-the-stage teaching model. While all of this data is great, it's even better hearing real college students discuss classroom technology in person.
Andy Lausch, vice president of higher education for CDW•G, presented a panel discussion on the Learn Now, Lecture Later report at the Campus Technology 2012 Conference in Boston with four CDW interns: Hannah Davis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Tyler Hughes from the University of Michigan; Katisha Sargeant from North Carolina State University; and Mario Solorzano from Arizona State University.
"The traditional lecture model is changing. Customers are looking for other instructional models," says Lausch. He cites hands-on learning, group projects and one-on-one tutoring as examples of these alternative models.
The session was packed to capacity as educators and technologists patiently waited to hear the students' thoughts on evolving teaching models, distance learning and tablets.
Distance Learning: Never Too Far Away
Solorzano was supportive of the online/offline blended approach, having taken a few courses in this format. He also really appreciated the fact that more teachers were making themselves available to students with video conferencing.
"My English professor made herself available on Skype," he said. This allowed Solorzano to follow up with his teacher outside of class while retaining some of the warmth of in-person communication by doing so face-to-face through Skype.
Hughes had a professor who was so nonchalant about attendance that he didn't care if they watched his lectures while laying in a hammock on a beach somewhere.
"My political science professor recorded all of his lectures and broadcasted them live. He didn't care if we were in the lecture hall or on a hammock on a beach somewhere," Hughes says. "He wanted us to be somewhere where we were comfortable learning. It's great to give students the option to do that."
Notebooks vs. Tablets
Student clickers were popular with both Sargeant and Hughes, as they both enjoyed the interactivity the devices offered. The discussion was a little more divided when it cames to tablets and notebooks though. Most of the students agreed that tablet use was steadily increasing, but when forced to choose between a notebook or a tablet, most sided with the trusty notebook for one reason: productivity.
"Usually I bring my laptop to class. More than half the students in class have their laptops with them," says Solorzano.
Davis, however, says that at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School they're adopting tablets over notebooks in full force.
Interestingly, when asked if they would change their minds if the tablets weren't paid directly out of pocket, but instead bundled with a technology fee, Sargeant and Solorzano both said they'd be inclined to go for the tablets. This shows that funding can play an influential role in the mobile device choices students make.
Hands-On Learning and Collaboration
There was an interesting split among the group when the discussion turned to collaborative learning. Hughes was a fan of the status quo lecture model, but Sargeant and Solorzano both appreciated the intellectual stimulation they got from discussing and debating ideas with their peers.
"I prefer to learn things hands-on. It just works better because there's nothing like experiencing it yourself," Sargeant says.
Solorzano found he gained the most insight from debating his classmates.
"I really enjoy listening to my peers and learning what their thoughts are on a particular subject. I'm able to retain more when work is done in a group setting," he says. "Most of the times [my peers and I] don't agree, and that's when you really learn."
Davis on the other hand was firmly stuck in the middle.
"I do learn more with a mixed model. Part lecture, and part group discussion," she says.
For more coverage from Campus Technology 2012, check out our conference hub.