In 2015, $6.6 billion was spent by U.S. educational institutions on information technology, or IT (Hart). IT includes everything from the computing technology to the software used on these technologies. Technology is becoming ubiquitous in college classrooms as 88% of college students own a laptop and 85% own a smartphone (Hart, 2015).
With the rise of technology in the past two years, these numbers have skyrocketed to even higher. Since all professors would prefer to have the undivided attention of their students, many people believe computers are becoming more of a distraction in the classroom than a convenience. The emergence of technology has presented students with the ability to appear engaged while in actuality they are completely detached from class discussions and lectures. However, 84% of students believe that digital learning technology is improving their education and 81% believe that it is actually increasing their grades (“New Survey Data”).
Technology has revamped the entire college experience including the pre-college process, the educational experience, and the search for opportunities to further a student’s education outside the classroom. Before discussing the benefit of technology on college education, it is helpful to know the forms of technology being implemented in the classroom. Technology is expanding at a rapid rate and it is starting to takeover educational institutions all over the world. According to Statistic Brain Research Institute, 98% of schools have at least one computer in each classroom and this number is still increasing. With programs like the 1-to-1 laptop program (where each student receives a laptop to aid with schoolwork), students are becoming increasingly adept at using technology to benefit themselves in the classroom. These programs have also improved students’ 21st century skills like the ability to locate and use internet resources (Zheng).
The advantages of laptops outweigh the disadvantages by a large margin. According to The Christian Science Monitor, “students’ test scores in science, writing, math and english/language arts improved significantly” since the start of these programs. It also states that “when computers were first introduced into corporations, it took a number of years to increase productivity”. The fact that computers are already making a positive impact on education shows that technology in classrooms is the future of education. The bar graph below provides an insight into how students think technology has enhanced their learning experience.
This graph shows the results of a study on the opinions of students on how technology has affected their learning experience. Trying to find the right college is a nerve wracking experience that usually results in stress, late nights, and mental breakdowns. But with the expansion of technology over the last decade, the pre-college process is as easy as it has ever been. College search websites, virtual tours, and the Common Application ease the amount of stress the university scavenger hunt creates when you are trying to find the perfect college. A great way to start the hunt for the perfect college is online. By just googling “college search”, about 1 billion results are retrieved to help in the pursuit. Websites like the BigFuture by College Board, College View, and College Data supply aspiring college students with the chance to search for a college using almost every filter imaginable: everything from a generic tuition estimate to a less common stat on the percentage of minority students attending the college (College Board). Anything that might sway a prospective student’s interest in a college is accounted for so the student can recieve an accurate prediction on institutions that would fit their needs to a T.
After the list of potential universities is dwindled down by the college search, virtual tours may help eliminate even more colleges from the list. Before choosing a college, a visit to the actual campus is essential, but a virtual tour is a great place to start. These tours provide a preview into the feel of a college before actually taking one step onto the campus. According to the article “The Impact of Modern Technology on College Applications”, there are two types of virtual tours: video tours and self-led tours.
Video tours are usually led by current students at the institution that talk about the certain location on campus. The video tours highlight each important landmark on the campus from the dorms to the athletic facilities to the actual educational buildings. The self-led tours can be even more helpful as they allow the prospective student to explore the campus on their own. Some colleges have even upgraded to the 360-degree tours to give an even more in depth view of the campus.The next step after the perfect college is found is getting admitted. Admission to college used to be a hassle because every student had to write answers to the same questions on every schools applications.
The Common Application, or Common App, was created in 1975 as a universal form that high school students could fill out and send to institutions associated with the Common App to avoid all the tedious rewriting. With the expansion of technology, the Common Application has become essential for all future college students. Originally, the Common App was only accepted by a handful of colleges, but now over 500 colleges and universities use the Common App to help applicants save time and stress (“Common App”). The application is now available online, which gives students a place where they can receive alerts about application deadlines, application fees, and supplemental essays. Another advancement made by technology was the ability to submit applications online. This makes the monotonous process of mailing letters out to colleges simple. To submit the application through the Common App, the only step that has to be completed is the process of paying the application fee. Everything from family background to test scores to extracurricular activities are included on the application to provide colleges with all the information needed to select the best students for their institutions.
Not only do tons of Americans apply for colleges, but also millions of international applications are submitted. The Common App receives over “four million applications per year from over 1 million students from around the world” (“About Us”). This has promoted diversity throughout American institutions by giving international students the chance to attend college in the United States. This could help aspiring students escape from the struggle they are dealing with in other countries. But once a student is admitted, the real fun of college begins: learning. Many people view college as parties, sporting events, and hanging with friends, but people forget the actual reason for attending college should be to expand their knowledge and prepare themselves for their future careers.
College is meant to challenge students and push them to learn as much as possible during their time on campus. Since the increased difficulty of coursework is hard enough, anything that can potentially ease the burden on students is a must-have for any undergraduate or graduate student. Technology has aided college students in many ways like taking classes online, simplifying exchanges between students and the professor, and taking notes during class. Thanks to these advancements, it is easier for students to cope with the struggles that college classrooms can bring.
With the influx of technology in the last couple years, laptops have become omnipresent within classrooms all over the United States. WIthin the last decade it has even become popular to take classes strictly online. Many critics say that these classes are unproductive because the students have to teach themselves but according to a study performed by professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and Tsinghua University in China, online classes may actually be more beneficial for the students:But after thorough before-and-after testing of students taking the MITx physics class 8.MReVx (Mechanics Review) online, and similar testing of those taking the same class in its traditional form, Pritchard and his team found quite the contrary: The study showed that in the MITxcourse, “the amount learned is somewhat greater than in the traditional lecture-based course,” Pritchard says (Chandler).This study demonstrates how technology is having a major positive effect on how students perform in classes.
Even though online classes can be great, some kids still learn best in a classroom setting. There are two main ways technology has massively enhanced the classroom experience: by facilitating student-professor exchanges and by improving note-taking abilities. Before technology became so conventional, communicating with professors was much more challenging than it is today. Since laptops have become commonplace among students, email has become an essential tool for students to ask questions to their professors or other classmates. This provides students with a fast and reliable way to receive help on concepts they struggle with from lectures. Not only does the technology provide a place to communicate, but it also provides students with tutoring resources if their professor does not check email very often?and therefore can’t answer questions a student may have. Websites like Khan Academy allow students to learn from other teachers that may provide information in a different way than their actual professors.
Because they are able to see a question answered from a second point of view, their eyes may be opened to a completely different way to solve the problem. Another website that supplies students with plenty of instructional videos and also simple, easy communication with a teacher is Canvas. “Canvas is an easy-to-use, cloud-based learning management system that connects all the digital tools and resources teachers use into one simple place” (“Learning Management System”).
But it doesn’t just stop with the videos and communication, Amy Kristin Sanders, an associate professor at Northwestern University states:Canvas integrates nicely with so many of the tools I use in my classroom, from clickers to TurnItIn’s plagiarism detection software to Respondus’ lockdown browser. All of these things make it easier for me to teach. I can spend less time on mundane tasks like grading multiple-choice questions and more time giving the students meaningful feedback on their writing. Truly a win-win (Qtd in “Top 10 Reasons”).Because Canvas has all of these tools, students can submit assignments and receive handouts without even being in class.
Learning Management Systems (LMS), like Canvas have had very positive feedback among college students. The graph below shows the student’s opinions of how the LMS they used affected their learning experience. This study conducted on 4,374 students from 13 different institutions show student’s opinions on the Learning Management System they use.LMS creates less clutter for teachers and limits the amount of times students need to print assignments?which saves paper and money for the student because most colleges charge for every page printed. Since handouts are now online, students, using the technology on laptops and tablets that allows users to write straight on the screen, can now take notes directly on the online handouts. “Digital note-taking also allows students to add drawings and highlight text while still retaining the digital format” (Stacy). Also, laptops and tablets can both save the notes directly to the cloud so students don’t have to worry about losing a notebook or handout.
In many colleges, digital-based learning is starting to be encouraged because of the many new applications, or apps, that help students study, take notes, and even enhance visual learning in classes like chemistry (Stacy). The use of studying apps will not disappear after the classroom is ditched for the real world. For example, the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education states, “Studies of medical providers show that up to 85% of its study population (surgeons, fellows, and residents) own and use a smartphone in practice; more than half of those studied use applications in their daily practice” (Stacy). Not only do apps help college students but they can also prepare students for training in their future careers. Before a student starts their career, they can intern to gain experience in their field before they enter it full time. Internships do not just supply college students and graduates with valuable experiences but can also help them pay off college debts at the same time. This combination of experience while also receiving a solid wage is a great way to adapt to how life will be after graduating from college. Technology has been a vital tool for college students who are searching for internships.
Websites like Internships.com show tons of available internships that can even be filtered to view the internships within a certain state or zipcode and within a certain area of interest. Interning at a desired job could show a student what that career would entail and sway their decision on if they want to be a part of that career or find another. This makes it easy when graduation comes around because the students will have a career selected that is fits their needs perfectly.After graduation, it is time to start the career.
Similar to the sites that can search for internships, there are many job search sites online too. Sites like ZipRecruiter, Monster, and Indeed are very popular for job recruiters to post information about openings at their company. They usually contain a job summary, the wage, and a link to the application for the job. Just like the internship websites, potential suitors can filter jobs based on salary, job type (Full-time vs. Part-time), location, and even experience level. Another great instrument to use during a job search is LinkedIn.
Like the other sites, job searching is available, but the main advantage of LinkedIn is the amount of job recruiters that are searching for specific people to fill a role in their company. Without the hassle of checking job-listing one-by-one, an employer can offer a job just based off a job seekers profile:As the go-to professional social network, LinkedIn has played a major role in how we search for jobs and how recruiters find candidates. With a strong profile, you can attract hiring managers and recruiters — bringing jobs straight to your inbox. And with the networking aspect, you can keep a close eye on potential job openings from past colleagues and other connections (White).With the speed of communication increasing almost daily, it is easy to get in contact with a desired business and establish connections with a potential employer.
In conclusion, technology is the future of education. Studies like the Mcgraw-Hill Digital Study Trends Survey (2016) show the impact technology has had on students. “4 out of 5 students” in this study agreed that digital learning technology improved their education, saved them time, and boosted their grades (“New Survey Data”). This shows the positive effect technology has had on college students.
They will take advantage of any strategy to try and get a leg up on education and technology is the new wave. Since technology is constantly improving?and students continue to become more adept at operating all types of technology?, students can access an abundance of knowledge that was not available during previous generations. Generation Z (kids born around 1998 to 2016), also known as Zers, are growing up with such a wealth of technology that it is putting them in position to change the world.
By the time they are attending college, Zers will be far more advanced than all previous generations before them. Technology and education are directly related, meaning that as technology is upgraded, education is upgraded as well. Three main areas that amplify the effect of technology on education are in the college application process, in the college classroom, and in the internship/job searches. Matt Miller, a huge advocate for technology in education, once said, “When schools tell students to put technology away, it’s like asking a doctor to save a life with one hand tied behind his back.
” Restricting technology will only hold students back. Embracing technology will allow students be better prepared for the workforce by giving them easier access to college, information, and internships.