Higher Education Technology Trends: How Are Professors Adapting?In a day and age where we are all surrounded by technology, college students and faculty are taking advantage of the latest technology available. In fact, one only needs to ride any type of public transit to observe students using their e-book readers to study the latest college assignment, a tablet to quickly surf the Internet for the latest information, or a laptop computer in the hopes of garnering the greatest advantage in their studies.

The importance of these electronic devices was noted in a recent survey performed by Babson Survey Research Group and Inside Higher Ed, where 4,500 educators from both colleges and universities were interviewed. These interviews were significant in compiling the following information:

  • Professors now allow students to use digital textbooks instead of their equivalent print versions, significantly reducing student book costs.
  • There is an increase in the number of instructors using digital media in the classroom. This material includes digital simulations and video.
  • While the majority of instructors refused to make it available to their students, some acknowledged that they used video capture in the creation of their own classroom materials.

Though I am most certainly not an expert when it comes to the vast numbers of professors and colleges across the US, I can share a situation that happened to me. My wife and I were instructors for the community education department of our local junior college. Within this department, I depended on my expertise in the use of Microsoft Windows to teach everything from an introduction to Windows to advanced courses in file management and the installation of firewalls. My wife, on the other hand, an expert on the ins and outs of the Microsoft Office suite, taught Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, and Publisher. The classes we taught attracted a large number of community residents and we both enjoyed our teaching jobs and assignments.

Then came a time when the college administration chose to put all communication online. This, in turn, created a semi revolt among some of the professors and instructional staff who were computer illiterate. This was when we were contacted by a school administrator and asked to begin both group classes and individual instruction to our fellow professors and teachers. The hope was that, since they were comfortable with us, we could eliminate their leeriness of changing their paperwork over to computer files.

One of the frustrations that we encountered upon venturing into individual tutoring was that, even though the college had purchased new computers for every teacher, many of the computers were not being used. In fact, some were still sitting, unopened, on the floor of the instructors’ offices. This, compared to the total reliance that both teachers and students of today have on their electronics, it is hard to believe that just a few years ago these same professionals were afraid to adopt the technology that now rules the world. Even then, their stubbornness to learn something that was obviously only to increase in complexity was truly alien to me since technology was such a large part of my personal and professional life.

However, in today’s society we would be hard-pressed to find many schooled individuals who are not computer literate and proficient in the use of any technology we throw at them. Unfortunately, however, especially among our senior citizens and poorer individuals, the lack of technology training continues to leave segments of our society ill-equipped to deal with the technology required for job advancement. To counteract this lack, the employer may find that, in certain cases, these persons will be worth the expense to provide them with the extensive training needed to overcome the deficits created by this lack of knowledge. It also means that means that employers may find themselves in situations where their staff may not seek the needed training, thus creating a situation where it becomes the employer’s responsibility to recognize this weakness and provide the necessary training, assistance, guidance, and support.

To determine if an individual is open to and capable of this type of training, one only needs to observe the type of phone a person uses. For example, the employees who still elect to carry a dumb phone by using the excuse that smartphones are just too expensive may actually be concealing their inability to grasp the concepts needed to operate this type of more complicated technology. Of course, in some cases, money could be a real factor, but since many companies such as T-Mobile, Walmart, and Straight Talk are now offering low-cost Android cellphones and low-cost cellphone plans, cost is no longer a valid argument for not embracing the latest technology.

These indications alone should have the employer sending their employees back to school. It is here that the student can see the instructors using smart boards, tablets, and laptops. It is here that they can learn to use the needed software by viewing simulations and videos created by their professors, and it is here that they can advance their technology education to a point where they will be an asset to your business. You never know: the person who you send back to school may be the person to develop a specialized program that will take your business over the top.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by lbg06

Source: US News