IT officials: Only one in 10 campuses have ‘cutting edge’ technology

Fourteen percent said professors simply 'won’t use' technology that is available to them
Fourteen percent of students said their professors simply 'won’t use' technology that is available to them.

Most college students say their schools understand how to use education technology in the lecture hall, but only 9 percent of campus IT officials describe their institution’s technology adoption as “cutting edge,” according to a survey released July 19.

The survey of more than 1,000 IT staff members, faculty, and college students, conducted by CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), shows that three out of four students surveyed approved of their college’s use of technology, while highlighting two findings that concerned some technologists: only a sliver of respondents defined their campus technology as “cutting edge,” and far more IT staffers push for education technology than do instructors.

According to CDW-G’s report, 47 percent of respondents said their college campus uses hardware that is “no more than three years old,” and 38 percent said their campus’s technology infrastructure is “adequate, but could be refreshed.” Only 9 percent said their education technology is “cutting edge,” and 5 percent described their computer systems as “aging.”

One percent of respondents said their institution’s technology is “in the dark ages.”

Thirty-one percent of college instructors said they considered web-based collaboration tools—programs that let students communicate with faculty and team up on projects from their home computers—to be “essential” parts of the modern classroom, while 72 percent of IT staff considered online collaboration critical in higher education.

IT staff members and campus instructors are more in agreement on the role of wireless internet access, with 65 percent of faculty saying wireless web is “essential” on campus and 87 percent of IT staff agreeing.

But the IT department and faculty members diverge on the role of recorded class lectures that allow students to watch professors’ lessons any time, anywhere—not just during class time. Nearly six in 10 IT staff support lecture capture technology, according to the survey, while just two in 10 instructors are in agreement.

Professors’ aversion to recording lectures and making them available on the web is no surprise to Jeremy S. Hyman, a longtime college educator and co-author of Professors’ Guide: The Secrets of College Success.

“[College faculty] want to resist technologies that replace the traditional classroom lecture,” Hyman said. “They want technologies that serve as a reasonable extension of their courses.”

That’s why instructors responding to the CDW-G survey were largely in favor of digital content for students, wireless web access, and smart podiums for lecture halls, Hyman said.

“Professors are skittish about recording and playing back lectures,” because once the lesson is made available on the internet, a college or university could claim it as the institution’s intellectual property and make faculty members expendable, he said.

Faculty members who have accepted the sage-on-the-stage lecture hall model, Hyman said, should be wary of lecture-capture technology.

“Once professors have that 400-person lecture, they’ve laid the groundwork themselves for the problem. Once you’ve stopped engaging students in a one-to-one mode, it’s a small step for a university to license the content and stream it to students on the other side of the pipe,” he said.

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