Long gone are the days of strictly putting pen to paper. Students are now spending on average of one-third of their education time online, using new mobile technologies, reports a recent Intel Canada survey.
Both teachers and students in the study say that personal mobile technology in the classroom is actually having a positive impact on engagement, empowerment, and collaboration. It is also reportedly helping students to overcome barriers imposed by increasingly large class sizes.
It's not just the students: teachers are also embracing mobile personal technologies to help improve their teaching methods, including offering online audio or video recordings of lectures, communicating with students, and sharing course materials online. Newer teachers (those out of school for fewer than 10 years) report incorporating technology such as audio or video lecture recordings more frequently than their counterparts. According to more than two thirds of teachers surveyed (69%), the effect of this rapid adoption of mobile technology is a transformation of the nature of institutional education into a collaboration between students and their educators.
"In my work and research, I see a trend towards building your own classroom - the inclination of students, powered by the right technology, to control when, how and where they learn," says Thierry Karsenti, Canada Research Chair on Information Technology and Communications (ICT) in Education. "The goal with technology is to teach students how to use their devices to learn rather than socialize - replacing a potential distraction with a powerful and unmatched education tool."
The survey results showed that students spend about 78% of their online time conducting research, and 52% of the time doing homework. The most commonly completed tasks online included collaborating with peers (mentioned by 87% of respondents) and communicating with professors and teaching assistants (mentioned by 86%).
"In fact, we find most students underestimate the amount of school activities that do take place online," says Karsenti. "Beyond specific tasks, they are constantly multi-tasking, referencing and reading online while writing essays or completing assignments; which makes technology central to their education."
Half the students surveyed, however, do admit that technology can sometimes be distracting. But two-thirds of them feel that technology helps them deal with large class sizes, and better communicate with professors and teaching assistants. Seventy-nine per cent feel that mobile technology helps to empower them throughout their learning experience.
"People often think that technology means people stop talking to one another, but the opposite is true - it breeds collaboration, particularly in an educational setting," says Karsenti.
In terms of the hardware, 86% of students cited battery life as a key characteristic for their technology, and 76% of all respondents (including teachers) rated it very important. Students ranked performance (speed and multitasking capabilities) very high with almost three quarters (74%) indicating performance is very important.
The survey was conducted online between July 21-26, 2014 with 845 Canadians students and educators. H+K Perspectives, Hill + Knowlton's research practice, partnered with yconic (Uthink.com) for this national study. In total, 535 students enrolled in post-secondary education and 310 educators contributed to the study.
Photo by smokedsalmon; freedigitalphotos.net