College technology ‘catching up’ with students

Today’s college classrooms are high-tech marvels, with overhead projectors and grease pencils largely being replaced by document cameras, handheld clickers, and interactive whiteboards, USA Today reports. "A lot of this is us catching up with the students and what they’re bringing to us," says Michael Reuter, 42, director of technology operations at Central Michigan University. At Central Michigan, a new $50 million education building has 75 miles of internet networking cable and 11 miles of phone cable, allowing out-of-town students to link with the classroom. Abilene Christian University freshmen receive more than the usual campus map and lists of required books when they begin school; for the past two years, they’ve also received an iPhone or iPod Touch from the university. And at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, as well as a handful of other colleges and universities, a select group of freshmen received Kindle eBook readers instead of traditional textbooks this fall. Faculty, for the most part, see technology as a way to better connect to students in their interactive, multitasking, apps-ready world. "A lot of people my age see technology as a tool to check e-mail and do grades. But for kids, the technology is just the environment that they know," says Howard Pitler, senior director of curriculum and instruction at McREL, an education research nonprofit in Denver. "When I was a middle school principal eight years ago, I taught a class in multimedia and was supposed to be the expert, but every day, kids were teaching me stuff I didn’t know. Teachers need to see that everybody in the class is a teacher."

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