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Higher Education Moves to Meet Student Tech-spectations

Colleges and universities across the country are working hard to increase IT offerings in order to meet student and faculty demand, according to a new survey by CDW-G.

The survey gathered information from roughly 1,000 college students, faculty, and IT staff members and provides a follow-up to the recently released K-12 equivalent, the 21st-Century Classroom Survey, which debuted at the ISTE conference.

"Today's high school and college students view technology as an engaging, interactive learning tool, which they expect will be readily available on campus," said Julie Smith, the CDW-G vice president of higher education, in a press release. "Students associate it with the higher education experience, and campus technology offerings weigh heavily in their college selection process."

In fact, providing technologies such as wireless Internet, a way to access the campus network from off site, a course management system, and digital content, to name a few, is becoming increasingly important to college students, the survey suggests. Sixty-three percent of current college students said a college's technology offerings played an important role in their selection process, while 93 percent of the high school students surveyed in the 21st-Century Classroom Survey said a higher education institution's technology capabilities were important to the college-selection process.

Also, 64 percent of college students said they used social media as a learning tool, while 76 percent of high schoolers reported using social media for educational purposes.

Three out of four college students surveyed agreed that colleges understood how they wanted to use technology as a learning tool. However, the biggest obstacle to integrating technology into classrooms, the students said, was a lack of faculty knowledge about technology. Twenty-four percent of students surveyed listed that observation. Twenty-six percent of IT staff agreed that a lack of technological knowledge from faculty impeded technology use in the classroom, but those concerns were topped by budget cuts, with 39 percent of IT staff listing that as the biggest obstacle to technology integration.

However, college faculty say they have a better understanding of how their college or university wants them to use technology, the survey found, than K-12 teachers said. Three-fourths of those surveyed said they understood how technology should be used in the classroom, while less than half of the K-12 teachers surveyed agreed with that statement.

Although there are definitely areas that could use some work, such as increasing professional development opportunities for college faculty about technology use and refreshing IT infrastructure to better support students and faculty, compared to the results from the 21st-Century Classroom Survey, it seems that higher education is moving along a little faster than K-12 when it comes to integrating technology into education. And it's a good thing, since, if the K-12 school survey is right, rising college students have even higher expectations about what technologies should be available and how they should be used to help them learn.

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