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Results from Huge Survey of Faculty and Students on Tech in the Classroom


Some really interesting findings from a huge survey of faculty (11,141) and students (35,760) regarding classroom technology which was conducted by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR). Highlights:


...most faculty members are satisfied with their learning management system (LMS) for course management functions such as publishing a syllabus or recording grades, and the satisfaction level did not vary by vendor. But few report using it for more advanced, interactive purposes. "The LMS is accepted as a utility. It is the phone system, the plumbing," Pomerantz said. "Now we need to think creatively about the next steps to using it more creatively for interactions with students."


...fewer faculty use technology for sophisticated learning tasks (e.g., engagement, creative and critical thinking), and relatively few faculty ask students to use their own devices for in-class work."


We know smartphones are a target of faculty ire," Brooks said. Approximately 25 percent ban their use in class and 75 percent discourage it. ...students admit to engaging in non-class activities on their smartphones in class."Many are doing so because they are bored," Brooks added. "When faculty directs them to use it for some pedagogically sound purpose in the classroom, it tends to mitigate distracted use. If there were more student-centered activities tied to those devices, we would see things change."


Among students, laptop use remains strong but tablets are on the way out. The survey report found that students view their laptop as critical to their academic success, and three-quarters of students said their smartphone is at least moderately important. "But tablets appear to be in decline in terms of ownership, utility and importance, in part because their functionality is duplicated by a combination of laptops and smartphones,"



Thank you for this fascinating data!

Valued Contributor

I live in a rural area and many students don't have smart phones. Some don't have phones. I am one of those that has a 'dumb' phone as there is no cell service where I live. I think technology is great. However, I am concerned there are not enough face-to-face interactions. Over the years I find the students have lost the ability to communicate orally and written. In many of my classes, they do weekly collaborations they present Also, just because the students want something, ultimately is it in the best interest for the student? Our industry feedback continues to emphasize the ability for oral and written communication.


"You can't always get what you want
"But if you try sometimes well you just might find
"You get what you need."


In the high school classroom, giving legitimate uses of technology often simply leads to sneaking illegitimate uses.  Teachers are often chided for failing to "engage" the students, but there are simply students who refuse to engage regardless of teacher competency.


Thankfully, it is a bit different with adults.  While some learners do treat college like High School, Part II, most seem to focus well as long as the content is relevant.  I don't make mobile phone policies for my adult students because, after all, it is their money.  If they don't graduate, then that is their problem.  I will continue to teach, to present relevant content, and to ensure lab work is practical and meaningful, but I dropped my babysitting hat when I left secondary education for post-secondary.


Technology in the class room - the phones and tablets - can be a problem when the student is addicted to using them.  Sometimes I find that if my phone is within sight that I want to pick it up and use it - play a game, read the news.


Instructors need to be aware that students might have an addiction problem. And while we can't solve that problem, we do need to be aware that it exists. May be putting the phone away for a seated class isn't such a bad idea.