In mid February, CampusTechnology.com reported on the release of the 2011 report “Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement and Learning Outcomes.” The survey, administered to both students and instructors revealed key points in opinions on the role of technology in the educational process.
Of the students surveyed, 86% agreed that their level of engagement in a course increased as the use of digital tools increased, and 67% of students preferred courses that integrated digital tools. While the use of these tools had little impact on external disruptions (e.g. working full-time, caring for families) digital tools helped students be more prepared for class and even helped them overcome aversions to using technology. Survey results from instructors showed a similarly positive sentiment regarding technology with 58% stating they believed technology had a positive impact on student engagement in the classroom, and an equal percentage matching students’ opinions of preference for courses in which technology could be used in the classroom. Additionally, 71% of instructors reported that the use of technology is a vital component in a course and has a highly positive impact on student learning. With this evidence that use of digital course tools are preferred by both students and instructors, and belief that these tools positively impact learning, the lack of adoption seems to be a non-sequitur.
Just today, John K. Waters reported for CampusTechnology.com new data and predictions of what seems to be sluggish growth in the adoption of etextbooks when compared to the growth in the availability of e-books. Currently, only 8% of students purchase etextbooks and roughly the same percentage access digital course materials. The National Association of College Stores makes the promising prediction that etextbooks sales will increase to between 10-15% by 2012. For etextbook publishers and providers like your friends at CourseSmart, this growth is a step in the right direction. But as quoted by Waters, Vineet Madan, the vice president of strategy and business development in McGraw Hill’s Higher Education group believes while “academic publishing is slower to change, so is the market we serve.”
Superficially, it appears the students much be the impetus for change to a technology filled educational experience. Alas, what can be made of the gap between students’ preference for integrated technology and purchase of digital course tools? Will the cliché “where there’s a will there’s a way” ring true?