Redesigning Higher Education

The emergence of technology and digital medias has rapidly changed the world in which we live in. Many of us have quickly adjusted to the “Information Age”, but thoughts of changing stagnant things, like the higher education system seems to scare people. The idea of redesigning institutions in a way that integrates technology more strongly seems to scare people. With digital media, the learning model would change entirely, causing it to result in some negatives and positives. The implementation of technology is something worth trying in order to see if it is a useful tool for our higher education system.

As a result of incorporating digital learning in higher education, outcomes would be completely different. The use of digital tools would have the ability to make the physical classroom experience better. Some may believe the use of technology takes the importance of an instructor’s role away, but that in fact is not true. In my research, I came across an article entitled “Four Reasons Going All Digital Can Improve the Quality of Higher Education”, written by Lynda Haas; she explains that “technology can extend the teacher’s role as a facilitator to keep students engaged.” Rather than taking away from a higher education instructor’s job, it helps them to teach in a more effective way. Haas goes on by explaining how she focuses on one specific writing assignment and selects students who want feedback on their draft; she then posts the draft on the screen for the whole class to see. In result to this, students are engaged and guided through a peer review session. She believes using digital tools allows students to collaborate and gives instructors the ability to provide instant feedback.

Additionally, the use of digital teaching guarantees that the students are connecting with the assigned material. Haas explains that by going digital, she feels all of her students are actively engaged in the class. She continues, “with a digital platform, students have to purchase access because much of their graded work will be turned in there”(Haas). In a sense, students are forced to read the material; they don’t have an excuse as to why they are unable to. Almost everyone has access to the Internet, which makes it nearly impossible not to complete assigned work due online. “Instead of assigning pages from a book and hoping that students will read them, they now interact with the material I assign, which means they may be reading a page or watching a video or listening to aural comments — in each case they will interact by clicking on the response buttons or inserting information into text boxes”(Haas). As a student, staying on task when trying to learn something can get incredibly difficult, but with the use of digital interaction — learning seems like more of a game rather than a job. The idea of interaction exerts a student to retain the material in order to get test questions correct that are sometimes given after the readings or videos.

In consequence of switching to digital teaching, some things would be adjusted in the higher education system. Dr. Katherine McKnight, the author of an article titled “Top 12 Ways Technology Changed Learning” does a good job at explaining what learning techniques and norms would be impacted if we were to redesign. For one, we wouldn’t need actual textbooks anymore. Interactive textbooks would take the place; they would include a numerous amount of things that regular textbooks could never supply us with. To be more specific, “assessments, animations, additional materials, videos, and other materials would be used to support the learning of new content”(McKnight). The idea of an interactive textbook seems better simply because many of the textbooks we use now have a ton of outdated information. With the use of web-based textbooks, there would constantly be updates of new and important information. It would make learning and teaching a bit simpler.

In an article titled “30 Incredible Ways Technology Will Change Education By 2028”, Terry Heick explains how technology is rapidly changing things, especially our education system. One thing that stood out to me was his idea of adaptive computer-based testing advancing in the year of 2015. “Adaptive computer-based testing slowly begins to replace one-size-fits-all assessment of academic proficiency”(Heick). Schools would be paperless when it comes to tests, we would no longer need Scantrons or bubble in multiple-choice questions. This form of redesign, I could see taking place at DVC very soon. Some of the online classes offered here already have tests that are strictly online. Due to the fact that many of the classes don’t meet in person, the midterms and finals are given on the computer. They have to be completed under an allotted time and are instantly graded. The fact that DVC has many online classes, I imagine testing is one of the things that would change completely. We wouldn’t be limited to having to come to class to take tests; we could easily do it online and receive a grade for it.

In any case, people become skeptical when it comes to modifying something that’s always stayed constant. According to the research I’ve done, it seems like educators and institutions are more reserved about the topic rather than downright against it. Out of the many concerns there are, one of the common ones is the use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops becoming a distraction. Dustin Schoof, the author of “Cell phones and other technology in the classroom distract, but also educate” explains how there is a right time and place for the use of these items. It seems that with the connectivity to the Internet, ability to send out text messages, and numerous amount of apps — the professors may have difficulties in determining whether or not their students are paying attention. “Sam Adams, director of technology at Blair Academy in Blairstown Township, says the key is creating educational opportunities for students to use the technology”(Schoof). To make sure students are engaged, faculties create systems that involve wireless devices to be apart of instruction. It is obvious that the use of technology integration in education is loaded with disruptions but can also provide useful tools.

Likewise, another concern would be the lack of critical thinking in result to the use of digital tools. As a young adult who’s grown up in the Information Age, I’ve realized that I tend to rely on the Internet more than anything. Whether it is something I don’t know how to spell or needing an answer to a math problem, I use Google for practically everything. “Top 5 Problems with Technology in Education Today”, an article written by Michelle Harven seems to cover some of the main issues people have with the integration of digital tools in education. “Students are so quick to turn to the Internet to answer questions that some believe critical thinking has gone down the tube”(Harven). This may seem like a minor problem, but in essence it’s quite major. Technology is viewed as helpful, but at the same time it takes a toll on our memory and brain-strength. Seeing that pulling out our phones/tablets and Googling something is much simpler, we tend to exercise and train our brains less. We no longer have to think about things. The use of Internet in higher education gives us the impression that Google is all we need. Students my age have all grown up with cell phones and video games; we’re all accustomed to this lifestyle.

All in all, the implementation of technology in education is something that has a good side and a bad side. I believe that within time, we will see technology making a name for itself in higher education. This is the Information Age, the time where technologists are experimenting with new ideas — maybe school institutions should give it a try too.

Works Cited

· Haas, Lynda. “Four Reasons Going All Digital Can Improve the Quality of Higher Education.” Faculty Focus. 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

· Harven, Michelle. “Top 5 Problems with Technology in Education Today.” Ed Tech Times. 6 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

· Heick, Terry. “30 Incredible Ways Technology Will Change Education By 2028.” TeachThought. 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

· Heick, Terry. “5 Problems With Technology In Classrooms.” TeachThought. 31 July 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

· Hooker, Carl. “How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom.” MindShift. KQED, 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

· Schoof, Dustin. “Cell Phones and Other Technology in the Classroom Distract, but Also Educate.” Lehigh Valley Live. 28 Sept. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

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