ECAR: More Technology, Please

The 2012 Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Undergraduate Technology Survey shows that faculty are integrating more technology into their classrooms than they were two years ago.  And, students are requesting even more, especially more integration of learning management systems, open educational resources, and video content.

The number of students who give their instructors high marks has risen dramatically.  The report says: “More students than ever gave positive marks for their instructors’ use of technology.”  Effective use of technology was indicated by 47% of students in the 2010 survey.  This year, however, that rating has improved to 68%.  

This chart shows some of the areas of increase since the 2012 survey.  Three of the areas (all except gaming and simulation) listed on the chart are areas that are relatively easy to apply to every field of study.

ECAR 2012 Results

One area of concern in the study relates to the responses from those who do not feel they are prepared for the use if this technology.  Of the 10,000 undergraduate respondents from all types of institutions, 33% said they did not consider themselves adequately prepared for the use of technology.

According to the study, the key findings are:

  • Blended-learning environments are the norm; students say that these environments best support how they learn.
  • Students want to access academic progress information and course material via their mobile devices, and institutions deliver.
  • Technology training and skill development for students is more important than new, more, or “better” technology.
  • Students use social networks for interacting with friends more than for academic communication.

The ECAR recommendations are:

  • Look to emerging or established leaders (other institutions, other countries, other industries) for strategies to deliver instruction and curricular content to tablets and smartphones. Learn from their exemplary strategies for IT support and security with student devices as well as planning, funding, deploying, and managing instructional technologies, services, and support.
  • Prioritize the development of mobile-friendly resources and activities that students say are important: access to course websites and syllabi, course and learning management systems, and academic progress reports (i.e., grades).
  • Bridge the gap between the technologies that have seen the greatest growth (e-portfolios, e-books/e-textbooks, and web-based citation/bibliographic tools) and students’ attitudes about their importance. Focus training/skill-building opportunities for students, professional development opportunities for faculty, and support service opportunities on these emerging technologies.
  • Use e-mail and the course and learning management system for formal communication with students. Experiment with text messaging and instant messaging/online chatting, and don’t focus efforts on using social networks and telephone conversations to interact with students.

The ECAR site is located here.  Not all content on this site is freely available to non-members.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.

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