We’ve read about tools students use in college classrooms, about tools professors use while teaching, and about up-and-coming tools being created for the higher education world. But when it comes down to it, what tools actually help in the classroom? What tools, that is, do college students actually wish their instructors used in the classroom? The Educause Center for Analysis and Research collected data from over 100,000 students at several hundred higher ed institutions around the country to find out. A representative sample of 10,000 students was polled for this specific study, and is explained in this Chronicle graph (subscription only).
One of the top tools students wished their instructors used more? Lecture capture for the purpose of later use or review. Over 70% of students polled at more than 200 institutions said they wished they could have their lectures up online to go over on their own time. Despite the enthusiasm for online lectures, it’s difficult to determine whether this technology scores points because students would prefer a flipped classroom, would really go over lecture material on their own, or just want to engage in learning on their own time. Many, however, believe this technology in particular fails to engage the student and instead creates a passive learning environment.
Other popular tools students wish their instructors used more in class include online collaboration tools, integrated class use of students’ laptops, and course- or learning-management systems: Around 60% of students polled wished these technologies were more readily available during class. Using laptops for in-class learning was something most students wish for more of, while integrated use of tablets came in second, and smartphones last: Only about half the students polled wished to see their smartphones utilized more during class.
Coming in last place was the use of e-portfolios. About half the students polled preferred to use these less, though it’s hard to surmise exactly why. Could it be because students might be able to view and comment on each other’s work? Do students prefer paper organization versus the cloud? It’s hard to say, but while e-portfolios seemed to be lowest end of the spectrum, e-books, educational games, and online course content all scored average marks as well—students didn’t feel strongly for or against using these technologies in the classroom.
While it’s hard to determine which tools are best to use in the classroom, it does seem that asking students the what and why of tools to use could be helpful for everyone. Different tools will be useful for different types of classes; there’s no one-size-fits-all practice for the classroom. It takes true collaboration to challenge students while picking the technological tools that will best help them succeed.