Technology Explodes on Campus

Carl Weinschenk

Carl Weinschenk spoke with Julie Smith, vice president of higher education for CDW Government and Rand Spiwak, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Daytona State College. CDW-G just released its third annual 21st-Century Campus Report, which highlights students' expanding technology expectations. Daytona State College plans to roll out out a sophisticated digital content program across its six campuses next spring.

Weinschenk: What is the background of the study?
Smith: This is third year we've done the 21st century campus study. In 2008, we set a baseline of how technology is used on college campuses. Fifty percent were on the way to fully integrating technology on their campus. Three years ago, we saw there was a lot of room before higher education fully got there. What's been nice over the last two years is that we've seen a lot of progression. In the 2010 report, we looked at what colleges are doing well and how newer technologies are making an impact on the learning experience.


"Our game plan is to go live with almost 40,000 students using exclusively electronic text next January, the spring term. It will drive the cost of textbooks down by 70 to 75 percent."

Rand Spiwak
Executive VP and CFO,
Daytona State College


Weinschenk: What are some of the results?
Smith: Some of things we found were that more faculty and IT pros are evaluating tools as essential tools for students to be successful. Eighty-eight percent of faculty said technology is essential to success in their class. And 72 percent of IT professionals believe institutions understand how faculty wants to use technology as a teaching tool. We also found that institutions are incorporating new technology tools that resonate with the technology with which students grew up. Seventy percent are offering some type of visual content. Sixty-one percent are offering virtual learning opportunities, 58 percent offer online collaboration software. About 75 percent of students believe their college understands how they want to use technology as a learning tool.


Weinschenk: Anything else?
Smith: Yes, I saved my favorite for last. First, let's step back. Last month we released a companion report for K-12 that asked high school students' expectations for technology when they went to college. In our higher education study, 63 percent of the current college students said that technology on campus was important to their college-selection criteria. That compared to 93 percent of today's high school students who say that campus technology will be important in their selection process. Another statistic is that 95 percent of today's high school students expect to use technology in all or some of their college classes.


Weinschenk: So what is the takeaway?
Smith: What we are finding is that colleges may not be ready to meet the expectations of high school students because they will expect a high technology environment in all aspects of their education, from class registration to class attendance-such as virtual classes-or lecture capture and replay of their assignments or tests.

Weinschenk: What about social media?
Smith: We found 64 percent of current college students are using social media to connect with classmates to work on class assignments. By comparison, it was 76 percent of high school students. More often than not, social media is not being endorsed or driven by the institution. It's the students' choice to use social media to communicate with classmates. Some schools are very forward-thinking, but we are not seeing that being widespread.

Weinschenk: What about digital content?
Smith: Our survey showed the digital content area is seeing a lot of growth. Many institutions are considering it a way to augment or even replace printed text. The No. 1 perceived benefit of doing that is cost savings by students and faculty. Seventy-four percent of faculty and 81 percent of students cited that. Instant access to content was next at 53 percent of faculty and 65 percent of students.

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