Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Minnesota

Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Minnesota

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December 11, 2009

Survey Suggests Campus Technology is Underused

eCampus News

Survey Suggests Campus Technology is Underused
by Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor

Fewer than half of college students responding to a national survey said their professors are using instructional technology, and educators worry that the technology gap between faculty and students might hinder campus learning.

The study also revealed a jump in the percentage of students who use technology to prepare for college classes. Eighty-one percent said they used computers, social networking, and other tools to study, marking an 18-point increase from 2008, according to CDW-G's "21st Century Campus Report," which was released this fall.

The report includes responses from more than 1,000 faculty members, college students, and campus IT staff.

The 2008 survey established a baseline for educational technology on college campuses, and this year's report details how higher-education officials are reacting to students' shifting technology preferences.

Forty-five percent of students said technology was "fully integrated into their curriculum," a 9-percent decrease from last year. Only three out of 10 students and two of 10 faculty members surveyed said colleges and universities were "preparing students to successfully use technology when they enter the workforce."

Russel Stolins, an adjunct faculty member at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico, said fellow faculty are too often amazed during technology workshops, revealing just how little some professors know about classroom technology.

"Most of my faculty colleagues, I don't consider them necessarily front runner when it comes to using technology," said Stolins, who teaches an online writing course.

Use of instructional technology such as video and audio lecture-capturing systems and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is often lacking in community colleges, where many professors are adjuncts who don't have time for lengthy professional development meetings and seminars.

"I think they're interested, but they could be intimated by technology," he said, adding that campuses may find faculty workshops unaffordable while most colleges struggle to maintain viable operating budgets. "I think there is the desire to learn, but I don't think schools have the time or the resources to teach it to faculty."

Students are using far more technology tools than their professors, according to the survey. Thirty-one percent of students said they use an iPod for educational purposes, compared to 12 percent of faculty. And 52 percent of students use open-source tools like Google Apps, a site where students can create study guides from different locations, among other uses. Fourteen percent of faculty said they use open-source tools for educational reasons.

Brian Friedlander, an assistant professor at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, N.J., said that each year, lecture halls are filled with students who expect more technology to be used in everyday lessons. Freshmen today, he said, are far more tech-savvy than first-year students as recently as five years ago.

"Students in our classrooms don't know a time when technology wasn't a major part of their everyday lives," said Friedlander, creator of the DVD, Assistive Technology: Powerful Solutions For Success. "They almost have to downshift now when they enter the classroom."

This year's CDW-G report reflects students' growing expectations. Seventy-six percent of student respondents said it was important for their campus to have a wireless internet network, compared to 50 percent in 2008. More than 60 percent of students said campuses must have computer labs--an 11-percent jump--and 53 percent said their college should have a course management system such as Blackboard, a 22-percent increase from 2008.

Campus IT officials recognize the prevalence of educational technology. More than seven out of 10 IT staff members surveyed said technology was "very important to incoming students." Fifty-eight percent of IT officials agreed with that statement last year.

The survey highlighted divergent views about the devices and strategies that create an effective 21st-century classroom.

While most IT staff and faculty agreed that wireless internet and LCD projectors were keys to a modern classroom, only 41 percent of faculty said interactive whiteboards were an important tool, compared to 73 percent of IT staff members. Six of 10 IT officials said video and voice lecture recordings were critical on campuses, whereas three of 10 faculty members agreed.

K-12 educators said high school teachers get a close-up preview of students' classroom technology expectations. Ignoring online video and web-based interaction with students is no longer an option as teenagers use laptops and mobile devices more in every aspect of their lives, including reviewing, studying, and doing homework, K-12 officials said.

"I believe that educators who become tech-savvy can combine their many years of educational expertise with the new ways kids engage themselves with technology for the best of both worlds," said Michael Smith, superintendent of Oakland Community Unit School District No. 5.

"Many educators don't know what they don't know. They have no idea of the shift that is occurring to the way kids learn through the use of technology."

December 9, 2009

5 Higher Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2010

Campus Technology

5 Higher Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2010

* By Bridget McCrea
* 12/09/09

There aren't too many corners of higher education that technology hasn't infiltrated. From admissions to financial aid to the classroom and everything in between, nearly all aspects of college are being handled in some way by the applications, hardware, and gadgets that help institutions work more efficiently.

Don't expect much of that to change in 2010 as more technology is developed and introduced to the higher education market. To make your trend-spotting activities easier, we spoke with some higher education technology experts and came up with these five top tech trends to watch in the new year.

1. More Interactive Classrooms
The days when professors lectured to a class of blank, unresponsive faces are long gone. Today, both students and educators are tapping technology to make the classroom environment more interactive and dynamic. Purdue University's Web-based Hotseat application, which allows students to use handheld devices to interact with professors in the classroom environment, is just a taste of what's to come.

"Anything that helps make the classroom more interactive, animated and engaging--be it multimedia, streaming video or some other innovation--will be in demand this year," said Gregory Phelan, chair of the department of chemistry and associate professor at SUNY College at Cortland in New York, which is upgrading its facilities to include streaming video that professors can access via the server while teaching (rather than "carrying" the content with them into class). "We'll be there soon."

2. More Information at Your Fingertips
In an era when information just can't be produced quickly enough, electronic book readers, smart phones, search engines, and other tools will continue to create an educational environment where both students and teachers have everything they need at their fingertips. "This faster access to information is going to change the classroom dynamic," Phelan predicted. "It will impact the way in which lessons are taught, and how students do their work."

Phelan pointed to the colleges that are "handing out" tablet PCs to all freshmen as the frontrunners in the race to equip students with all of the information they need to succeed in school. Whether other universities follow that lead remains to be seen. "I'd really like to see more schools making that move," said Phelan, "and even further integrate technology into the college classroom."

3. Mashed-Up Technologies
Technological equipment and software that serves a single purpose has gone the way of the 8-track tape and will continue to fade in 2010 as more users learn to "mash up" their technologies into more useful packages. "Students are using every communication vector that they can get their hands on right now," said Ron Hutchins, associate vice provost for research technology and CTO at Georgia Institute of Technology's Office of Information Technology. "It just makes sense that they would mash those technologies together and make them more specific and customizable."

Take online maps, for example. Once thought of as standalone applications that help the user get from Point A to Point B in the fastest, most efficient manner, online maps can now be integrated into other applications, such as location-based e-mail programs. "These types of customizable, specific mashups," said Hutchins, "will become even more prevalent in higher education this year."

4. Breaking Out of Technology Isolation
One of the coolest uses of technology that Hutchins has seen lately can be found in Rutgers University's English department, which is equipped with an entire wall of touch-enabled whiteboards. Using precision positioning technology, the wall-mounted boards allow for unprecedented participation and collaboration among students.

"Students walk up to the wall and use their hands to manipulate items," remarked Hutchins. "It's like putting your whole body into a design project." Hutchins said such innovations also go a long way in getting students up out of their seats and interacting with educators, other students and technology in a meaningful way. "Technology can be isolating," he said. "I love the notion of integrating the classroom and making it more social. This is just one way to make that happen."

5. Capabilities That Go Beyond 1:1
Last year saw college students using more devices and technology applications than ever before, and universities scrambling to keep up with those tech-savvy students. Expect the trend to pick up speed in 2010, said Shannon Buerk, education design strategist at Dallas-based consultancy Cambridge Strategic Services. Netbooks, online education, social networking, smart phones and podcasting will continue to play a role in the typical student's life, as will "4:1 computing" as a replacement for the more traditional 1:1 (one device to handle one task).

"The traditional 1:1, standardized computing is too rigid in today's educational environment, where students are tapping into multiple technologies and switching gears quickly between them," said Buerk, who said she sees the university landscape as being ripe for even more technological innovations in 2010. "When it comes to [technology], there are no boundaries in the learning environment."

About the Author

Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at

July 31, 2009

Teaching and Learning without PowerPoint?

This article profiles professors who are developing teaching methods and theories based on the argument that student learning is not necessarily enhanced by technology--if that technology is used to support traditional lecture-style methods. The provocative and seemingly anti-technology title of the article, "Teach Naked," is a bit of a misnomer: the faculty members profiled argue that podcasts and course content-related applications and games can both enhance outside-of-class learning and improve in-class discussions.

When Computers Leave Classrooms, So Does Boredom - Chronicle of Higher Education

July 21, 2009

Web 2.0 and Wisdom

In this article, Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies
at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, draws from literature from multiple disciplines to argue that research infrastructures should be used in an attempt to generate "wisdom." The article then proposes how Web 2.0 research tools build the capacity for wise advice.

Technologies that facilitate generating knowledge and possibly wisdom Educational Researcher (38)4. 260-263. DOI:10.3102/0013189X09336672

June 25, 2009

Summer Reading: Paperback, Audiobook, Kindle, or iPhone?

The author of this article finds that reading between these various formats enhances her experience of Dickens.

Reading Dickens Four Ways-The Chronicle of Higher Education

May 22, 2009

Zotero: An Open Source, Web 2.0 Citation manager

Zotero | Home

Zotero 2.0 beta was recently released. I was using Zotero 1.0, and while it was handy, it was too difficult for me to manage my citations across the multiple computers I use. 2.0 fixes that problem with a handy sync feature that allows you to sync Zotero to multiple computers/browsers.

Zotero also allows scholars to open their research collections to others, including making them publicly available. I can follow people working in my field and have access to their source materials quickly and easily. I imagine this could enhance conversations and collaborations about ideas and research.

You can annotate your citations in Zotero. When searching common databases like JSTOR, Zotero will save the full text pdf of articles, making the full pdf searchable in the software interface.

January 27, 2009

Linking Social Networks

November 11, 2008

Using Skype for study sessions

Wired Campus: Grad Students Who Live Far Apart Hold Study Sessions on�Skype -

As the first commenter at the blog post on the Chronicle noted, people have been using Skype to collaborate across distances for a while now. But it is still a good reminder that distance is coming to mean less and less in academia. We can work with anyone. We can learn from researchers in India, Antarctica, Brazil, Pequot Lakes even when our research has nothing to do with India, Antarctica, Brazil or Pequot Lakes. Imagine a world where a Public Health researcher can learn how colleagues all over the world are addressing the challenges obesity and use that knowledge to propose local solutions. Or a researcher on educational policy can get feedback on a policy draft from experts in China and India and Canada.

Our research questions, and importantly, our solutions, can pull from the best in the world, not just the best in the country. The changes happening now are remarkable.

July 18, 2008

Wikis in Plain English

YouTube - Wikis in Plain English

This has been going around for a long time. But it's a good video, and I'm going to show it in a training next week, so I dug it up again.

I like that the video points out the flaws in trying to collaborate in email; most of us have been doing our work this way for so long that the inefficiency is not always obvious.

June 4, 2008

Open Source Software Gaining Momentum for Course Management Systems

Gartner: E-learning Market Pushing Toward Open Source

Campus Technology online reports on a Gartner study indicating that Open Source e-learning/course management systems such as Moodle and Sakai are gaining ground on commercial systems. Part of this is attributed to the uncertainty created by the Blackboard lawsuit against Desire2Learn.

Gartner: E-learning Market Pushing Toward Open Source

January 29, 2008

The 2008 Horizon Report is released

The New Media Consortium released the 2008 Horizon report at the Educause Leadership Initiatives conference in San Antonio this week. The Horizon Project discusses emerging technologies that will strongly influence teaching and learning at colleges and universities. The emerging technologies the Horizon Report discusses for 2008 include:

  • Grassroots video
  • Collaboration webs
  • Mobile broadband
  • Data mashups
  • Collective intelligence
  • Social operating systems

Continue reading "The 2008 Horizon Report is released" »

November 21, 2007

Can you find it now?

Making the University's web search more relevant

A university as large as the University of Minnesota can be difficult to navigate. Recently, people from across the university have taken steps to ameliorate that problem. Called “tuning,? the goal is to make the search results of the University’s website more relevant and make University offices, departments and people easier to find.

Hundreds of common search phrases have been coded into the search engine with the most likely relevant results at the top. For example, if someone now searches for “bus pass,? the top result leads to the Parking and Transportation website, where University faculty, staff and students can buy a transit pass. Before this process, the link to Parking and Transportation was tenth on the search results page.

Tuning cannot replace a good search application, but it can hopefully help visitors to the University’s website find what they are looking for. If you have any suggestions about how to improve the search results, please submit them to

Give us your feedback

Is there a search query you think needs tuning? Have you noticed the search function is more relevant? Let us know what you think by sending an email to the Technology Enhanced Learning team at

How to spot tuned results


Links that have been manually added for specific search queries are listed at the top of the page, with “Keymatch? to the right of the results.

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