With advancements in computer technology, college classrooms are being transformed. Computer programs, social media and online resources have opened doors to faster research, communication and productivity in a global economy. Employers expect college graduates to have the technological knowledge needed to perform competitively, and universities are thus offering students opportunities to learn and benefit from various digital tools as part of their college education.
Online and Hybrid Courses
Computers provide students with Internet access to attend online and hybrid courses. According to the Ambient Insight Premium Report, “There are more than 30 million online higher education students that take one or more of their classes online in the world as of August 2012. Over half are in the US, so far.” Online courses offer students and working professionals the convenience and flexibility of obtaining or advancing their education at home. Hybrid courses combine online learning with attendance in a physical classroom to deliver instruction to students. Students are required to attend class at set meeting times, but can experience flexibility and a reduction in the amount of trips to a physical location.
Many college professors are using Facebook, Twitter or Edmodo to post their assignments online and to communicate with students outside of class. These social media tools provide students with the benefit of keeping track of assignments and their due dates. For example, if you have an unexpected emergency and miss class, you can use a social media tool to see what was assigned in class and submit your assignment when it is completed in a digital format. Furthermore, social media offers students a way to ask professors questions and receive prompt responses after office hours.
Computer technology offers students improved research capabilities anytime and anywhere. Databases, available through college libraries or local and state libraries, provide students with quick and comprehensive access to books and articles. Students no longer need to visit a physical location and spend hours searching through card catalogs. Nowadays, all library collections are digitized and easily searchable, but it is also possible to access the actual sources -- such as articles, encyclopedias, and even some books -- from the comfort of your own room within a matter of minutes. In addition, the functionality of advanced online search engines saves students time in locating research materials quickly.
Content Management Systems
A Content Management Systems (CMS) allows the management of content on a website. Many colleges have a CMS that provides students with the ability to accessed class syllabi, required readings, sample exams and other course materials, including videos and podcasts. Examples of such systems include Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Moodle. Another benefit of this technology tool is that students are able to keep track of their grades and turn in assignments online.
College students with or without disabilities can benefit from other computer technologies as well. Assistive technologies such as multimodal reading (see and hear text aloud programs) empower students with disabilities to comprehend information and successfully complete assignments. Other technologies such as word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs offer students tools to manage and complete assignments in a timely manner. Email also gives students ways to communicate with classmates and instructors to ask questions or to submit assignments.
- The University Star: Colleges Would Benefit from Embracing Technology Advances in Classrooms
- Article Scholar: Top 5 Ways Technology Benefits College Students
- Educause: Convenience, Communications, and Control -- How Students Use Technology
- StateUniversity.com: Technology in the College Classroom
- Ed.gov/blog: Technology Gives Students with Disabilities Access to College Courses
- Ambient Insight Premium Report: The Worldwide Market for Self-Paced E-Learning Products and Services -- 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis
- ELearning Services Prince George’s Community College: Hybrid/Online Courses
- Online-Education.net: Online Courses