As technology continues to advance, paper and pencil may quickly become a thing of the past in the classroom. Many colleges are now offering electronic texts as a way of relating to tech-savvy students, many of which are using e-readers, tablets, Smartphones, and laptops in college classrooms across the county. Is this technology helping students, or hindering the learning process? Opinions vary; however, technology is continually advancing and many colleges are jumping on the e-bandwagon.
Several years ago many educators thought the invention of the laptop had changed their classrooms forever. No one could have predicted the popularity of today’s electronic devices and the implications these technologies would have for the college classroom. The use of laptops in the classroom brings note-taking to an entirely new level; many students can type as quickly as the professor dictates, simultaneously creating outlines and documents to be saved for later, printed, or even emailed to friends. Having these notes saved in a document format allows quick and easy modifications and also allows students to share and compare notes easily when studying.
Many colleges have active Wi-Fi capabilities offering students instant internet access, which allows students to find more information about topics discussed in class immediately. Perhaps the only con of laptop usage in the classroom would be practicality. Laptops are much heavier than a notebook and pencil, require a charged battery (or sitting next to an outlet), and take up space on slim college desks.
These problems are easily solved through the invention of the tablet computer, e-reader, and Smartphones — the newest technology to hit the college classroom. Drastically smaller in size than the average laptop computer, tablets, e-readers, or Smartphones offer several of the same pros as laptop computers without some of the troublesome cons. These handheld devices are perfect for viewing electronic textbooks during a class discussion. Several computer programs allow students to mark and highlight their e-texts for note taking just like they would a typical textbook. Also like a laptop computer, these advanced technologies offer instant internet access through Wi-Fi connections, opening the door to the information superhighway.
There are also many apps for handheld devices that are beneficial to college students. Apps that simply remind students of deadlines and assignments are very popular, while more specific apps specialized in the student’s field of study offer some much needed help during difficult assignments. Many college students utilize these apps when studying including flashcard, quiz, and review apps. When it comes to apps for handheld devices the possibilities really are endless; if the app you are looking for doesn’t exist, many college students are capable of creating it themselves.
One drawback to the use of handheld devices in the college classroom would be the touch screen typing method and lack of processing capabilities. Many students cannot type as quickly on a handheld device’s touch screen as they would a laptop computer, putting them slightly behind during a professor’s lecture. It is important to note that not all handheld devices offer programs for processing, making the creation of note taking documents impossible.
Social networking and text messaging have also become quite popular with college students, although not as practical for use in the college classroom. Students can instantly connect with friends through several different social networking websites, or by sending a simple text message on their cellular device. This puts students in contact with other students instantly to work together on class projects, ask questions, or study for an impending examination.
Technology is continually changing, and many colleges are struggling to keep up with demands for new technology in the classroom. Technology should not be cause for apprehension; embracing new technologies in the college classroom can enhance student learning and prepare them for an ever-evolving, technologically-based world.