Andy Lausch, CDW•G Vice President of Higher Education (left) leads student panelists in a Campus Technology discussion: Jaime Sotolar, Michelle Shin, Caleb Ferganchick and Josh Wang.

Aug 01 2013

Are Campus Technologies Preparing Students for Future Success?

CDW•G hosts student panel on the campus to career transition, and the technologies and skills needed to get there.

CDWG Student Panel
Credit: Meredith Braselman

Andy Lausch, CDW•G Vice President of Higher Education (left) leads student panelists in a Campus Technology discussion: Jaime Sotolar, Michelle Shin, Caleb Ferganchick and Josh Wang.

CDW•G campus internship participants shared their views on the efficacy of certain classroom technologies, as well as just how well those technologies are preparing them for the future as part of the “From Campus to Career: Tech Prep and Tech Skills for Success” panel Tuesday at the Campus Technology conference in Boston.

Moderated by Andy Lausch, CDW•G vice president of higher education, the presentation also included a preview of the forthcoming “Campus to Career: Preparing for Success” report, a survey of higher ed faculty and student perceptions of classroom technology.

While the full report of the July 2013 survey is not yet available, Tuesday’s panel highlighted some key early findings, including students’ desire for more specialized instruction on certain technologies, as well as more hands-on training with technology used in classrooms and labs.

“Employers want students to have basic analytics skills, as well as the ability to give a presentation, both virtually and in person,” Lausch said. “They should have solid mastery of communication skills beyond social media.”

Lausch asked the panelists about the technologies they think they will use most in their future careers, and the ways in which they learned how to use those technologies as students.

Michelle Shin, a 2013 graduate of University of California, Davis, told attendees she believes technologies that enable collaboration will be very important, and that she expects to be in touch with clients remotely.

Caleb Ferganchick, a junior finance major at the University of Arizona, said he finds communications and collaboration technologies are “a bridge. It’s used to make sure the tasks at hand are being accomplished, but it shouldn’t overtake face-to-face communication. Definitely, it’s a good supplement.”

But, in some instances, he figured out how to use such tools on his own, Ferganchick said.

The student panelists concurred that, on all of their campuses, professors differed when it came to instruction on classroom technologies: Some offered assistance on tools they expected their students to use throughout a project or course while others shared available resources for students to learn more about their required technologies on their own time, outside of the classroom setting.

The students also agreed that instruction on technology safety and security measures should be provided by colleges and universities.

“To learn and protect ourselves, we need to be aware of what we are doing, and be educated in terms of accessing wireless networks,” Shin said. “I do think that’s a heavy responsibility on ourselves, but I also think campuses should sponsor education or share that kind of knowledge with students.”

None of the students present had ever taken an entirely online course, they said.

Jaime Sotolar, a senior entrepreneurship major at Saint Louis University, said she took a hybrid course, in which parts of the instruction were supplemented by online components. Sotolar also indicated that she enjoyed the flexibility of viewing some instruction modules online via sites such as YouTube.

“I’m always on the go, and I do things that mirror my schedule. So wherever you are, you can always use YouTube to learn something quickly,” she said.

By far, students said the most important component of the on-campus technology toolbox is a robust wireless network that enables them to use the devices of their choice.

When it comes to investing in future campus technologies, however, recent University of Washington graduate and CDW•G Campus Intern Supervisor Josh Wang said more opportunities for student input are needed.

“If students are directing or at least giving input in the ways investments are made, I think it would be a good way to maximize the money that’s available,” Wang said. “Students are the ones who end up using it.”

“IT staff and professors need to have a common goal when it comes to just what they’re equipping students with, to provide a seamless transition into the workforce,” Ferganchick said.

<p>Meredith Braselman</p>