The secret to edtech adoption? Make it easy

Today’s traditional college students come from the generation of digital natives, meaning they are generally incredibly fast learners when it comes to new technologies. However, that also means they have discerning technological tastes, especially when it comes to user experiences. You can outfit your student body with all of the tech tools in the world, but if they feel the user experience is unintuitive or inefficient, even the always-plugged-in generation may choose to stick to pen and paper. (Or, perhaps more likely, use a patchwork of personal devices with familiar interfaces.)

But schools are embracing these tech tools for a reason: technology-facilitated collaboration can help drive better student experiences and learning outcomes. To help students and instructors alike reap these benefits, technology partners are demonstrating a growing focus on ease of use. Today, huddle rooms wired for collaboration are changing the way students learn and work together. The next challenge is making that collaboration more effective and intuitive and, by extension, more broadly adopted. These efforts largely come in three categories:

1. Familiar, intuitive interface design. I remember hearing a story about someone’s two- or three-year-old niece holding a framed photograph and trying to pinch and flick the glass to zoom in on the photo. When it didn’t work, she turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, broken.” We are living in a world where smartphone gestures are second nature to hundreds of millions of people. Why try to compete with that? Classroom collaboration tools such as interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) can leverage similar gestures and design (without infringing on any intellectual property, of course!) to allow digital natives to quickly and easily start using them.…Read More

Survey: ‘Digital natives’ need more IT support

A new survey claims to show a 'perception gap in how adept students are versus how savvy they are presumed to be.'
A new survey claims to show a 'perception gap in how adept students are versus how savvy they are presumed to be.'

Marc Prensky, the education writer who made popular the phrase “digital native,” says there’s no reason a college freshman should be expected to know every function of even basic computer programs such as Microsoft Word. And Prensky’s claim is reinforced by a recent survey that shows even tech-savvy college students require more campus IT support than you might think.

Only four in 10 college students surveyed said they receive adequate support for education technology tools on campus, although 70 percent of respondents said they would prefer to take a course with “a great deal of technology” if proper IT help was provided, according to Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement, and Learning Outcomes, released April 7 by higher-education research firm Eduventures and Cengage Learning, a Connecticut-based company that provides research, learning, and teaching solutions.

While college students are adept at manipulating complex social-networking tools through their iPhones and BlackBerries, along with video and computer games, “they’re not nearly as proficient when it comes to using digital tools in a classroom setting; this turns the myth that we’re dealing with a whole generation of digital natives on its head,” said William Rieders, executive vice president of global new media for Cengage Learning.…Read More

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