Small Schools Adapt to New Tech

By IGI Global on Apr 11, 2011
As incoming students become more and more reliant upon mobile technologies and web-based resources to accomplish their daily activities, established colleges and universities face new challenges as they try to accommodate student needs. Jeff Young, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, recently hosted an illuminating discussion between technology consultant Warren Arbogast and Carroll College's Assistant Director of Learning Technology to discuss how this small, American liberal arts college is adapting to big changes in technology.
Dan Case, the Assistant Director of Learning Technology at this Montana college, said that with a student body of about 1400 students, he only has a seven person IT staff to handle requests. The college recently upgraded its wireless capability and found that students were connecting, on average, four internet-capable devices each—devices such as mobile phones, Wii consoles, and laptop computers. Now, even tablets are becoming a popular educational device.
Arbogast said that on his plane ride over to the Montana college, he sat next to a student who claimed that "everyone," meaning students, was using smart phones for "everything" that they do. Does this put a huge pressure on faculty?, asked Arbogast.
"It puts a huge pressure on faculty," responded Case. He continued,
"And some faculty have kind of embraced it saying, you know, okay, you can—here's my phone number, you can text me when you, when you have a question or whatever. So it's no longer…the students stopping by the faculty member's office saying I have a problem with Question 4. Now the students, almost their expectation is it's gonna be 24/7 and I can text my faculty member at 10 o'clock at night and he or she is gonna respond to me—and faculty have a hard time with that, I think."

In addition, Case mentioned, he feels that some faculty have a fear of failure when it comes to integrating technology into the classroom "…because you don't want to look bad in front of the students, and a lot of faculty feel that way."
A recent survey found that nearly one quarter of the student respondents felt that their "lecturers need additional training" in information technology skills. You can view the National Union of Students survey results here.
IGI Global offers a wide breadth of books which can help explain the practical details of designing podcasts or working with virtual learning environments. For example, one of IGI Global's most recent titles, Academic Podcasting and Mobile Assisted Language Learning: Applications and Outcomes, edited by Betty Rose Facer, contains material which can serve as a practical guide for faculty on how to set up their own podcasts.
However, combining new technologies with an effective teaching strategy is essential to ensure that the uses of these new tools are well-targeted and keep in mind the diverse cultural values of the students they are meant to aid.
IGI Global publishes a wealth of academic resources which focus on blended learning and E-learning. The following titles focus largely on the pedagogical underpinnings for blended and virtual classrooms:
During his interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, Assistant Director Case said that one of the toughest parts of his job was determining how to assign resources when aiding the Carroll College faculty in integrating technology into their classrooms. These excellent resources can help faculty aid themselves toward this end as well.
You can listen to the entire Chronicle of Higher Education Tech Therapy podcast at the following link: " Small Colleges Face Challenges With Tech but Enjoy Some Advantages."

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