University Computer and Multimedia Lab

As technology begins to increasingly occupy institutions of higher education, professors need to be prepared to use the technology that facilitates learning in their classrooms. According to the most recent annual survey by the Campus Computing Project, almost 80 percent of senior technology administrators at college campuses across the country believe that their top concern for the next couple of years is assisting faculty in integrating new classroom technologies.

Many key campus technology challenges are not about the technology itself, but rather the underlying difficulties in getting more faculty members to use digital resources. Training, user support, infrastructure, recognition and reward, and evidence of benefit are all important issues that must be addressed.  “The instructional integration of IT, user support, mobile computing, online education, and leveraging IT for student success are all service issues that support larger institutional goals and priorities,” said Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project.

Although IT departments have concerns about the training offered to faculty, the recent ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013 showed that 66 percent of students believe most or all of their instructors have adequate technical skills, and 67 percent say they use the right kind of technology and use it effectively.

However, undergraduates still wish their professors would use certain digital products more, and that instructors would have more training in effectively using campus-wide software applications. Students are most interested in having access to course materials inside and outside of the classroom and in integrating use of their digital devices, such as laptops, in class. Almost three quarters of the students want instructors to use lecture capture more, and 60 percent want to see more use of their school’s CMS or LMS. Almost all institutions have a CMS in place, but most professors only use the basic features. Students also express an interest in the uniformity of instructors’ CMS use. A study respondent said, “I think instructors need more training when moving to a new platform. In all three of my classes this semester [each of my instructors] handled [the CMS] differently.”

Administrations across the country must work to ensure faculty members receive the training needed to use the digital tools provided on campus. Additionally, programs such as the new Software PhD website, where users can rate education software from various vendors, will allow administrators and faculty to choose the best technology for their school. Academic librarians are leaders in digital information, and a great resource for faculty to build confidence when learning new tools or programs. Professors can also take an active role in learning from their students, to see how they use technology and how to best help them navigate digital media for learning.