Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Will Student's Need to Catch Up with Edtech in College?


Today I have a guest post from blogger Marina Salsbury, who asks the question if K12 schools are doing enough to prepare students for the technology skills they will need when they get to college.  Guest posts are always welcome.  Please drop me a line if you are interested.

Will Students Need to Catch Up with Edtech in College?

Astounding statistics show that many students will be playing catch-up when they get to college. In fact, 40 percent of students need a remedial course in at least one subject once they enter state public universities and colleges. Many students are taking far longer to graduate, which means they're not adequately prepared for college. Many states will pay $80 million or more to subsidize remedial classes that don't count toward students' college credits.

What are the Effects of Technology Deficiency?

Students who are behind in terms of reading and math skills are typically also behind in terms of technology skills, causing them to lose further ground compared to peers. If such students have difficulty using technology available on campus, the technology may be there, but students who can't or don't use it won't reap the benefits.

For instance, many colleges and universities allow students to utilize distance learning technology like online college classes to enhance their educational experiences. These kinds of technologies open a range of options to students, from making up for missed work to enrolling in classes completely online. Students can access lectures digitally from any location, or even interact directly with teachers and classmates through media like screen-sharing or digital whiteboards. Students who don't know how to use these technologies may put themselves at a disadvantage generally as these approaches become more common in higher education.

How Colleges and Universities are Competing By Offering Advanced Technology

Computer technology constantly evolves, and students must remain abreast of developments as much as educators. Digital classrooms require technological awareness on behalf of students. New technologies are so important now that many students are using the presence of technology as a criterion for selecting which college to attend. Unfortunately, students who attended high schools with little technology aren't aware of what they need to compete at a university with advanced technology.

Edtech is growing in importance at all levels of education, but the post-secondary context tends to lead the way. As colleges and universities compete for talent, technology on campuses improves. Many corporations are soliciting colleges to participate in state-of-the-art technological studies in exchange for allowing students and professors access to the technology on campus. Students must be prepared to learn the use of new technologies at the college level, and most professors already assume they will do so as a matter of course.

What Areas Will Technology Affect?

Technology is already present in every area from the enrollment process to submitting assignments. Most colleges use an electronic registration system students must master to even get into classes. More importantly, though, digital technology is more and more becoming a part of students' coursework itself, and it's in that respect students lacking in digital aptitude may find themselves challenged.

To take a simple example, cloud computing technology is now broadly used to allow students to store all of their files remotely on a server that can be accessed from any location. This makes using different computer labs around campus easier, and enables easy sharing of documents for group work and to submit assignments. Students accustomed to using cloud services like Google Docs will find working in the cloud in college nothing new, but those from high schools that didn't pursue such technological alternatives to the usual pen-and-paper approach may find the expectation to use the cloud overwhelming.

Of course, colleges offer tech support, and perhaps better still, students can learn from each other how to use unfamiliar technologies. Students may need to play catch-up, but some efforts are being made to ensure students are better prepared for college education. In time, hopefully, that push for more complete preparedness will likely include an element of technological aptitude and digital literacy. Meanwhile, K-12 educators everywhere should consider how their classrooms prepare students for what lies ahead in their ongoing education at the college level, and beyond.

Marina Salsbury planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She writes around the Web about everything from education to exercise.

Questions may be directed to Marina here.