In the past couple of decades, technology has changed dramatically and thereby has affected almost every aspect of our lives. The education industry is one that has been influenced greatly by the changes in technology. Students are using many more gadgets in and out of the classroom. Many students and instructors use multiple devices to connect to the Internet: desktop computers, laptops, tablets, e-readers, smart phones, iPods, etc. This has forced many universities to increase their bandwidth capabilities in order to accommodate the usage.
Approximately 47% of students believe technology makes professors better at their jobs. Students often participate more in courses in which technology is used because it allows for diverse learning styles. Instead of having to speak up in front of an entire lecture hall, students are able to submit questions and answers through a tweet, text or remote clicker to answer multiple choice questions. Many students prefer a blended-learning environment rather than one that is only high-tech. Most instructors have a computer in their classroom and many others have a secondary alternative multi-media device such as a projector or a TV. Several studies have found that using certain electronic devices actually improved students’ grades.
Technology has also altered the way that professors engage with their students outside of the classroom. Students feel more comfortable asking professors for extra help via email rather than a phone call. Seventy-five percent of college students say Wi-Fi access on their campuses helps them to earn higher grades. Some students feel more confident when they are able to communicate remotely instead of face-to-face. Services like BlackBoard allow professors to post their lectures and supplemental course materials that students can later access. BlackBoard also has a discussion forum section on their website so students can ask questions and have a discussion regarding the course material. Technology in the classrooms also has its drawbacks. Students may be distracted by other things on their computers or mobile devices. The potential for cheating increases because students can easily look up answers or send a message to their classmates. Educators have to ask if the benefits outweigh the risks and many seem to think they do.
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