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Students demanding more technology in education

ICEF Monitor has frequently looked at how technology is impacting international student recruitment – from the basic techniques of social media and mobile-optimised websites to the growing popularity of interactive virtual tours and the use of QR codes.

Today, we explore how technological changes are influencing student behaviour and student demands.

Students demanding more technology

It’s clear that many universities have embraced some level of interactive technology, but students are also continually more demanding. A study published last month by Adobe reveals that universities in the UK are under increasing pressure to offer incoming students access to state-of-the-art technology because of the increased fees they are being asked to pay.

According to the study, more than half of the students surveyed say having access to computers and the latest software is one of the most important factors when choosing an institution – more so than having well-qualified and accessible lecturers. About half of the students cited increased fees to explain their reasoning, and a whopping 89% of those starting university in 2012 “feel entitled to a better university experience.”

Their demands may derive from their own embrace of technology in the classroom. Today’s generation are ahead of the curve when compared to schools, and want the technology they use every day to be applicable in classrooms.

In the 2012 Undergraduate Technology Survey from the Educause Center for Applied Research, 49% of students want to see an increased use of learning management systems (LMS), 57% want more open educational resources (OER), 46% yearn for more online videos, and 55% are hungry for more game-based learning.

Additional studies echo these points, and demonstrate that educational providers are reacting to student demands and beginning to adopt more and more tech in the classroom.

When technology solution provider CDW-G surveyed more than 1,000 US high school and college students, teachers and IT professionals this past summer, they found that in a classroom setting 74% of college students use digital content, 55% make use of smart phones, and 53% take advantage of recorded lectures if offered by the instructor.

When asked how the shift to different learning models is impacting the way they learn, one student noted, “I think it makes the learning real. You are able to take the concepts you learn in lectures and use them in real, hands-on situations.” Another student said, “Technology makes you ready for a real-world experience and makes school work seem more like a job.”

The numbers highlight a key point. As Niall Sclater of the Open University explains on his blog, “We only ever see significant adoption of technologies for teaching and learning when these are already commoditised. Thus while early adopters pioneered the use of the web browser for teaching in the mid ’90s it was only a few years later when most people were Googling for information and shopping online that the web really began to take off in education.”

“Similarly we’re now getting 10% of our students accessing our online systems from mobile devices on a regular basis. The number is growing rapidly but probably more because smartphones are taking off in society than because we’re providing useful podcasts and websites optimised for small screens.”

Sclater suggests that innovators and early adopters need to keep pushing technological limits, but may have to accept that most innovations will have minimal impact on learners until similar devices and applications are mainstreamed in society.

In our next post, ICEF Monitor will look at the popularity of MOOCs and other types of distributed learning as a major driver of technological change in education. Until then, we’ll leave you with this interesting infographic on how technology is changing college life.

Editor’s Note: Part two of this series can now be found here: “Is technology the key change agent in higher education?

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