For a generation of students brought up in a culture of unlimited choices, it is expected that personalized preferences would extend to how they want to learn. Yet the widespread adoption of those preferences into the classroom has been slower than expected. Research from the Educause Center for Applied Research ten years ago predicted that students use of technology would be more ‘evolutionary than revolutionary,’ and a decade later, that seems to be the case with the learning landscape now less about traditional versus technology, and all about creating greater choice.
LEARNING ACROSS PLATFORMS
Although educators and institutions have been able to provide today’s students with a variety of different learning platforms, the college class built around the textbook has been difficult to replace as James Mulrooney, Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at Central Connecticut State University, explains. “The book is an essential component for the course. If students want to do well, the book is absolutely required, and the various formats and cost-saving options increase the likelihood that the majority of students will have the book for the course," he says, adding, "The availability of lower cost options such as digital or book rentals, opens the door for me to have greater flexibility to choose the best possible text for my course.”
However, ed tech has helped develop powerful new additions to the learning landscape and, having pioneered textbook rentals, used books, and buy back and price matching programs, Barnes & Noble College has also invested in looking hard at other learning platforms. Powered by its research into how Generation Z learn, Barnes & Noble College discovered more about the student preference for combining both the tried and tested along with the latest learning technology. “We found that while they’re very independent and technologically savvy, today’s students value face-to-face interaction and collaboration. Learning for them is one continuous, multifaceted, completely integrated experience – connecting their social, academic and professional interests,” explains Vice President and CMO at Barnes & Noble College, Lisa Malat.
Those kinds of discoveries have led to partnerships with content providers such as XanEdu to developing a fully interactive open resource platform in Courseware. In addition to valuing the content the platform provided for her students, Donya Waugh, who adopted Courseware for her students at Cuyahoga Community College, valued the way she could adapt the OER Courseware to her individual teaching style. "I liked the flexibility of being able to move chapters around, re-ordering the content to the way I like to teach the course. It gave my students resources for every chapter of the course book – quizzes and videos along with content that I could add myself," she says.
Across the board, the Barnes & Noble College research indicates students responding positively to learning tools, like Courseware, but it’s not just students who find value in these newer ways of learning. In a recent SurveyMonkey survey of a few hundred parents of students in grades K-12, more than 75 percent indicated that educational technology has a positive influence on their children’s learning. The biggest benefits parents stated: it’s engaging and interactive, two characteristics the current generation of students also value as extremely important.
EMPOWERING THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
There are advantages in adopting technology for instructors too. Over 345,000 faculty have joined the Barnes & Noble College digital community to benefit from easier adoption of course materials through FacultyEnlight, while the analytics offered with Courseware can help teachers identify students who may be falling behind and help provide them with a more engaging, and ultimately more successful, learning experience.
Even as greater options technology options are being offered by an increasing number of college campuses, access to a higher education itself can prove challenging to many students. It’s why Barnes & Noble College includes in its complete learning solutions initiatives like First Day, empowering students who might otherwise have to wait for college loans, with the course materials they need right at the first day of class.