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The 21st Century College Campus – Report Indicates Technology Integration Lagging

On Monday, CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G), released the results of a new study, “The 21st-Century Campus: Are We There Yet?

CDWDesigned to examine the current and future role of technology in higher education, the study sought to determine how well technology is being leveraged as an academic tool on college campuses today. Ongoing readers of OpenEducation.net will not be surprised to learn that the new study reveals a higher education system lagging in technology integration.

Importance Without Debate
The report notes that college students, irrespective of major, specified that campus technology was a key factor in the selection of their school. Those same students also clearly articulated that technology will be a critical aspect within their chosen professions. In addition, the study notes a similar view of those outside of education, stating that “independent research indicates that employers believe technology skills are growing in importance and that colleges and universities should strive to develop those skills in their students.”

However, despite the acknowledged importance, CDW-G found that “just 33 percent of faculty members say technology is fully integrated on their campuses.” The study also noted that “most students lack exposure to common workplace collaborative technologies, such as videoconferencing, web conferencing and podcasts.”

Using the CDW-G 21st-Century Campus Index that features 20 campus technology factors (classroom technology integration, one-to-one laptop programs, remote network access, etc.), the report estimates that “U.S. institutions are just halfway to realizing the 21st-century campus.” The glass half-full assessment comes despite a recognition by colleges and universities that “campus technology can offer a distinctive competitive advantage” in the recruitment of top level students and the knowledge that “institutions are making campus technology upgrades and integration into the educational experience a priority.”

Specific Shortcomings

Among the negatives for higher education:

  • The biggest hindrance to implementation of technology appears to be the basic lack of knowledge among faculty members. Though 85 percent of schools provide training for staff, nearly half of the respondents from this population (44 percent) said their biggest challenge was simply not knowing how to use the technology in the instructional setting.
  • Mac Steve Another major shortcoming is the fact that only 80 percent of classrooms were equipped with smart technology (e.g., Internet connection, LCD projector, interactive whiteboards, and smart podiums). The study notes the number of equipped classrooms should be 100%, especially since professors in smart classrooms were twice as likely to integrate technology in every class when compared to those professors without access.
  • Combining these first two issues creates a situation in which only 42 percent of faculty indicate they utilize technology during every class session. Here again, the number should be approaching 100%.
  • In addition, just 23% of higher education IT staff indicate that their campus offers online chat capability for students with professors even though students had this item on top of their tech wish list.

Recommended Actions
CDW-G offers some specific recommendations to help colleges and universities become 21st Century Campuses. First and foremost, higher educational institutions should begin monitoring what’s relevant for graduates in a post-academic world. After identifying those technologies, colleges and universities need to ensure students are trained in the use of each application.

In addition, the study acknowledges the ongoing need to train professors to properly utilize such technology in the classroom. The report correctly notes that such training should be designed specifically for this target audience so as to meet their unique needs and teaching schedules.

Finally, there is coherence with our ongoing message regarding technology integration: it is time for university faculty and students to connect via Web 2.0 tools. Specifically, CDW-G suggests it is time to “leverage chat, blogs and social media tools to connect students and faculty” with an eye towards building “community within and beyond the campus.”

CDWEditor’s note:
According to its home web site, CDW-G, a wholly owned subsidiary of CDW Corporation, is a leading provider of technology solutions for federal, state and local government agencies, as well as educational institutions at all levels. The entire report may be found by registering online at the CDW-G newsroom.

Flickr photo courtesy of Mac Steve.

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