Whether students return for in-person, remote or hybrid learning this fall, faculty and staff should adopt a more student-centered perspective when it comes to edtech.
The role edtech plays in making or breaking a student’s experience cannot be ignored as classes reconvene, with a recent study from the College Innovation Network showing just how badly a negative technology experience can impact online learning.
The survey asked 700 students enrolled at four higher ed institutions to answer questions about their experiences with online learning in the 2020-2021 academic year and centered around “edtech self-efficacy”: confidence in one’s ability to learn new technology.
While eighty percent of respondents said they were confident in learning new edtech tools, 20 percent reported that they struggled with those same systems. Some students even discovered that the laptops they received were either too old or too slow to handle course assignments. At the start of lockdowns, the scramble to move to online courses saw professors employing a disparate array of tools to accommodate classes, but now, a unified approach is more possible, and necessary.
“If students get stuck struggling to use their assigned edtech tools, they may not ever break through to engage with the actual course material, says Kathe Pelletier, director of the teaching and learning program at EDUCAUSE to edsurge.com.
The Need for a More Thoughtful Approach
“Students just want to know what their assignment is, when it is due and where to put it,” Pelletier told edsurge.com. Faculty, then, must be intentional in selecting edtech tools, with first assignments being fairly low-stakes, so students don’t feel too pressured. Those that struggle should be followed up on to make sure they aren’t just struggling with the technology.
This is where having a technology orientation on the first day becomes useful. Professors could also hand out a survey on the first day asking students’ how comfortable they are using new education technology and then inviting those who indicated low confidence to drop by during office hours to troubleshoot any concerns.
Another version of this article previously appeared on My Tech Decisions.