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Teaching with Technology

Laptops, Desktops Most Common Form of Instructional Tech in the Classroom

Traditional laptops and desktops are both used in 82 percent of learning environments — making them the most common form of instructional tech in the classroom, according to Campus Technology's first-ever Teaching with Technology survey. The survey polled faculty members across the country about their use of technology for teaching and learning, their wish lists and gripes, their view of what the future holds and more.

Rounding out the list of common forms of instructional tech hardware used in the classroom: non-interactive projectors (used in 72 percent of respondents' classrooms); non-interactive, large-screen displays (61 percent); and multifunction printers/scanners and mobile phones (each with 58 percent).

On the software front, word processing and presentation applications currently lead the pack in terms of usage in the classroom (each referenced by 96 percent of instructors); followed by online video services, such as YouTube or Vimeo (89 percent); and learning management systems and gradebooks (frequently integrated into the LMS), both with 87 percent.

To gain an overall understanding of what kind of technology is seen as the most useful for teaching and learning, we also asked people to assess the value of specific types of devices in the classroom. Laptops came out on top in that ranking as well; 95 percent of respondents said they consider those either "essential" or "valuable." Workstations — higher end computers with faster processors, more RAM, more storage and dedicated graphics cards — came in second, adjudged essential or valuable by 76 percent of faculty. Those were followed closely at 74 percent by all-in-one computers, such as the iMac, and traditional desktop computers.

Not all devices are held in such high esteem among faculty. In particular, this crowd isn't ready to see the virtues of smart watches: Those came in last in the list, seen as essential or valuable by only 5 percent of faculty.

The presence of one technology in the classroom, however, is viewed with mixed emotions by most instructors — and that's mobile phones. About one-fifth of faculty allow the use of phones in their learning spaces (21 percent) and one-fifth don't (22 percent). The remaining 57 percent do allow the phones but with limitations.

The conflicting emotions were summed up in this comment from a liberal arts instructor at a four-year university in Connecticut: "We need a means of blocking use of devices for accessing social media, texting, etc., without blocking the use of such devices for exclusive educational purposes, [such as] taking notes."

Overall, our respondents are putting technology to use a lot in their lecture halls and classrooms. Faculty reported using tech for instructional purposes on average about 62 percent of the time. One in 10 people (11 percent) uses it all the time. A quarter use tech three-quarters or more of the time. We'd bet those instructors are running primarily online courses.

We also wanted to know about how technology comes into play with course materials. Most people in the survey (74 percent) are using a mix of digital and paper-based textbooks for their courses. And a similar number are using open educational resources (OER), taking advantage of the numerous free and low-cost digital materials available for college study.

The full results of the Teaching with Technology Survey appear in the August/September digital issue of Campus Technology. Highlights from the survey will also be posted on this site over the coming months. You can check back for ongoing coverage in our Research section.

Who Responded

There are a lot of people who play a part or have a vested interest in the use of technology in colleges and universities. But for the sake of this survey, CT wanted to find out what faculty thought about the topic, so we targeted our questions to that role within the institution. Everybody else who responded to the survey was eliminated from the results we're sharing with you here.

We were left with 524 qualified participants who held faculty roles. Of those, 69 percent work in public institutions, 23 percent in private not-for-profit colleges and another 8 percent work in private for-profit schools. Seven in 10 institutions (71 percent) run four-year programs; the other 29 percent run two-year programs.

Our typical respondent has spent an average of 21 years in the field. Nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) have 21 years or more of experience working in higher education; the next largest group (33 percent) has between 11 and 20 years.

The respondents come from a gamut of school and college types. The top three most represented are education (19 percent), business (14 percent) and liberal arts (10 percent). Every other discipline has single-digit representation.

The average size of the institution's student body in our survey is 13,886. However, nearly six in 10 respondents work in colleges or universities with fewer than 10,000 students.

Respondents come from almost every state in the union, with particularly high representation from California, Florida, Texas, New York and Ohio, in that order. (We apologize to our Canadian respondents who felt unloved; next year we'll be sure to include your provinces as well.)

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