When the latest electronic gadget hits the market, you can be sure that it will quickly show up on college campuses soon after. But technology isn’t limited to the iPods, iPads, and other mobile devices used by students. Institutions across the United States have embraced technology and are using it to streamline campus operations, improve communications, enhance security, and much more.
Here’s a look at some of the innovations being used by colleges and students today.
Using Texting as a Communication Tool
By some estimates, as many as 95 percent of college students have a cell phone or other mobile communication device. Many students use their phones to send texts to their friends during class – to the annoyance of their professors! However, some professors have discovered that texting can be a valuable learning and communication tool.
Texting allows professors to further engage students by using their preferred means of communication. One issue that professors must take into account when considering texting as a communication option is whether they feel comfortable giving out their cell phone number to students.
Social Media for Networking
Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are changing the way students communicate with each other about coursework. One study indicates that 58 percent of students are comfortable interacting with their classmates about projects and assignments via social media. However, many students still feel that social media is not an appropriate forum for communicating with their professors.
Blogging and Virtual Tours to Aid Student Recruitment
College admissions offices are using blogging as a way to provide insight into what campus life is like at their institution. Prospective students can log on to the college’s website at their convenience to learn more about the school from a variety of sources. Students can also follow the blogs of several schools they may be interested in for a period of time. This can provide new insights during their evaluation process.
Blogs may be written by admissions representatives or by current students. Virtual video tours allow prospective students to get a flavor of the campus and the facilities without having to travel many miles to make an on-campus visit.
While commercial e-books from leading booksellers have been on the market for several years, they’re now available in textbook format as well. Some colleges are even requiring students to purchase e-textbooks for certain classes. E-book readers are also available that can accommodate the e-textbook format.
Some students find that the use of e-textbooks and e-readers helps them reduce the time it takes to read and study their course materials. While e-textbooks eliminate the need to lug cumbersome textbooks around, they may be more expensive than the print version in some cases.
Simple Augmented Reality
Simple augmented reality is a concept where students use their smart phones as a learning tool. Tech-savvy professors can create QR codes that are designed to be read by smart phones. These codes can trigger text, videos, images, and URLs pertaining to a specific topic or object. For instance, a botany student could point her phone at a specific plant and gain information about the particular species.
Incidents such as campus shootings and other acts of violence have caused many colleges and universities to implement tighter security measures. Technology has played a key role in many security-related innovations.
For instance, one university has implemented a mobile access pilot program featuring mobile apps that control access to buildings. Students can unlock a building by tapping their smart phone over the lock. In addition to convenience, it is expected that this technology will offer security benefits. After all, students are less likely to lose their smart phone than an ID card. This decreases the likelihood of an unauthorized individual gaining access to a building.
Technology has a major impact on the instructional methods employed by colleges. A prominent example is the widespread availability of online courses. While e-learning is not a new concept, it continues to grow in popularity. According to one survey, 58 percent of students indicated they have taken at least one online course. 96 percent stated that they have taken a traditional course containing online components. 71 percent responded that they had taken tests or quizzed via the Internet.
Online learning enables schools to provide courses to students who might not otherwise be able to attend classes in person. Students enjoy 24/7 access to course materials and they don’t have to travel to a college campus as frequently, if at all.
CC photo by FHCHS