Ready or Not: Next-Gen Students’ Technology Expectations Surpass Students’ Today, Annual CDW-G Survey Finds
“Today’s high school and college students view technology as an engaging, interactive learning tool, which they expect will be readily available on campus,” said Julie Smith, CDW-G vice president, higher education. “Students associate it with the higher education experience, and campus technology offerings weigh heavily in their college selection process. They also expect that the higher education experience will bridge the technological gap between academia and professional life.”
IT professionals said they see opportunity for even greater diversification of technology offerings. Compared to faculty, they have a broader view of how technology can enable the 21st-century classroom. While 72 percent of IT professionals said online collaboration software is an essential element to the 21st-century classroom, only 31 percent of faculty members agreed. In addition, 68 percent of IT staff said virtual learning is a key part of the higher education experience; only 35 percent of faculty agreed.
At the same time, IT professionals highlighted the need to ensure that campus technology infrastructure can support the increasingly complex 21st-century campus environment. Forty-four percent said their IT infrastructure needs to be refreshed. To provide “always on” technology access, IT professionals said they need to improve or expand their storage, security and server infrastructure.
Sixty-three percent of today’s college students said technology was important in their college selection criteria and, as an indication of the ever-increasing importance of technology among younger generations, 93 percent of current high school students said it is important, according to the recently released 21st-Century Classroom Report, which examined technology use at the high school level.
Anticipating future students’ technology needs, many campuses are successfully integrating new technology tools, including digital content (70 percent), virtual learning (61 percent) and online collaboration software (58 percent), CDW-G found. Three-quarters of college students reported that their institutions understand how they want to use technology as a learning tool.
John Brownell, a senior at Temple University and on-campus intern for CDW-G, has experienced firsthand the gradual rollout of new educational technology during his time at the school. Recently, he was able to compare his learning in an online finance class with a similar course that was text based during the same semester. “I learned so much more in the interactive class,” he said. “We had homework problems everyday, and if we had difficulty, the program walked us through the problems step by step and also demonstrated multiple approaches. I also retained more from the online class.”
While schools continue to expand their technology offerings, some students expressed concern that faculty professional development is not keeping pace with classroom technology. Twenty-four percent said lack of professor technology knowledge is the biggest hurdle to technology integration in their lessons, making it the No. 1 concern among students. Faculty lack of knowledge ranks second among concerns expressed by faculty and IT staff, behind budget pressures.
Other key findings of the CDW-G 21st-Century Campus Report include:
- College students are using social media – including Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wikis – as a learning tool. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of students use social media to connect with classmates to study or work on class assignments. Even more high-school students (76 percent) use social media as an educational tool
- Digital content offers big benefits for higher education. Faculty and students rate cost savings to students as the top benefit to digital content, followed by instant access to content, access to current content and ease of note taking
- College students’ must-have technologies include wireless networks (77 percent), off-campus network connections (57 percent) and course management systems (47 percent). High school students want a computing device (84 percent), digital content (64 percent) and e-reader devices (28 percent)
- Sixty-seven percent of faculty and 76 percent of students said their schools are adequately preparing students to use technology at work, down from 74 percent and 82 percent in 2009, respectively
To improve and grow campus technology opportunities, CDW-G recommends that institutions:
- Understand that technology means something different to each campus group: Generational differences and approaches to learning mean that faculty members view technology differently than students. The campus technology discussion needs to move from simply having technology toward how to change the learning process with that technology
- Survey students, faculty and IT staff to understand their expectations for technology use: Ensure IT understands what faculty and students expect and that the IT infrastructure can support continued innovation. Consider using the 21st-Century Campus Report Assessment Tool to better understand students, faculty and IT staff needs
- Consider demonstration labs to give faculty and IT staff hands-on experience with newer technologies: Watch the technology habits of today’s high school students and consider how the institution can support and integrate their preferred tools into the learning process
For more information on the 21st-Century Campus Report and to download the complete study, please visit www.cdwg.com/21stCenturyCampus.
A wholly owned subsidiary of CDW LLC, ranked No. 41 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies, CDW Government LLC (CDW-G) is a leading provider of technology solutions for federal, state and local government agencies, as well as educational institutions at all levels. The company features dedicated account managers who help customers choose the right technology products and services to meet their needs. The company’s technology specialists and engineers offer expertise in designing customized solutions, while its advanced technology engineers can assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions. Areas of focus include notebooks, desktops, printers, servers and storage, unified communications, security, wireless, power and cooling, networking, software licensing and mobility solutions.
For more information about CDW-G product offerings, procurement options, service and solutions, call 1.800.808.4239, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CDW-G Web site at CDWG.com.