From research and lectures and to collaboration and homework, students are spending on average one-third of their education time online using new mobile technologies, according to a study released by Intel Canada.
Despite potential concerns, the majority of both students and teachers agree that personal mobile technology in the classroom is having a major positive impact on engagement, empowerment and collaboration, and is helping students to overcome barriers imposed by increasingly large class sizes.
Teachers, too, are embracing mobile personal technologies in order to improve their teaching methods, including offering online audio or video recordings of lectures, communicating with students and sharing course materials online. Newer teachers (those out of school for less than ten years) report incorporating technology such as audio or video lecture recordings more frequently than their counterparts. According to more than two thirds of teachers surveyed (69%); the effect of this rapid adoption of mobile technology is a transformation of the nature of institutional education into a collaboration between students and their educators.
“In my work and research I see a trend towards building your own classroom – the inclination of students, powered by the right technology, to control when, how and where they learn,” said Thierry Karsenti, Canada Research Chair on Information Technology and Communications (ICT) in Education. “The goal with technology is to teach students how to use their devices to learn rather than socialize – replacing a potential distraction with a powerful and unmatched education tool.”
As part of the study, students enrolled in post-secondary education were questioned about the amount of time spent online vs. offline for a variety of school activities. Results showed that, among other things, research is conducted online 78% of the time and homework is conducted online 52% of the time. The most commonly completed tasks online included collaborating with peers (mentioned by 87% of respondents) and communicating with professors and teaching assistants (mentioned by 86%).
“In fact, we find most students underestimate the amount of school activities that do take place online,” said Karsenti. “Beyond specific tasks, they are constantly multi-tasking, referencing and reading online while writing essays or completing assignments; which makes technology central to their education.”
One concern with technology in the classroom (cited by half of the students) is the fact that technology can sometimes be distracting. However, two thirds of them feel that technology helps them overcome the barriers imposed by large class sizes and still maintain personal contact with professors and teaching assistants. Almost eight in ten students (79%) feel that mobile technology helps to empower them throughout their learning experience.
“People often think that technology means people stop talking to one another, but the opposite is true – it breeds collaboration, particularly in an educational setting,” noted Karsenti.
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