Higher-education technology leaders have long called for a shift to more technology-based learning—so what’s stopping the revolution? Results of a recent survey identify limited budget and outdated infrastructure as the primary obstacles impeding transition to a new learning model.
Responses revealed a strong pull toward increased use of technology: Two-thirds of students expressed desire for more technology in their classrooms, and 76 percent of IT staff reported that faculty requests for help with ed-tech implementation have increased in the last two years.
The survey, administered by major technology vendor CDW-G in May and June of 2012, asked 1,015 students, faculty, and IT staff about new learning models in high schools and higher education. CDW-G released the survey results June 26 as a report entitled “Learn Now, Lecture Later.”
Obstacles to a seismic shift remain, however, as almost nine in 10 IT professionals said they would need to upgrade their infrastructure before they can incorporate much more technology in their classrooms.
“Today, generally speaking, the infrastructure is working and doing a good job. But anytime there’s a fundamental shift, you need to reevaluate infrastructure,” said Andrew Lausch, CDW-G’s vice president of higher education.
In particular, Lausch noted that cloud computing “is here to stay and can be part of the answer toward new and interactive learning models” because it takes some of the burden off IT management staff.
As education technology evolves, long-term planning is key, said Benjamin Hockenhull, director of digital infrastructure for St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
“It doesn’t make sense to invest in IT that works for you now but isn’t going to carry you through,” he said.
A university’s IT infrastructure should be as reliable as electricity or the phone—something that “always there and you don’t have to think about,” Hockenhull said.
St. Edward’s implemented comprehensive wireless connection on campus, to be ready by the end of summer. The new setup should allow students to walk from one building to another and maintain a secure connection on their tablets, laptops, and other devices.
Survey results showed that two-thirds of high school and college students want to use technology more often as a learning tool. In particular, higher-education students want more recorded lectures, opportunities to use laptops and tablets in class, and digital content.