Teaching with Technology

3D Scanners and Printers, Virtual Reality Gear Top Faculty Wish Lists

Our 2016 Teaching with Technology survey asked higher education faculty about their most-wanted hardware and software for the classroom — and their top technology complaints.

Laptops and desktops may be the most common form of instructional tech in the classroom, but most faculty are dreaming about more cutting-edge gear.

According to Campus Technology's 2016 Teaching with Technology survey, the top hardware on instructors' wish lists: user-engaging 3D and virtual reality gear, big displays and tech-enabled student furnishings. 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.

On the software front, animation software leads the faculty wish list, referenced by 17 percent of respondents; followed by adaptive learning (13 percent); games and e-portfolios (each with 12 percent); 3D modeling (11 percent); and collaboration/whiteboard software (10 percent). Everything else received single-digit mention.

While the majority of faculty believe technology has a positive impact on education, they have plenty of gripes about it too. Here are the top complaints uncovered by our survey:

Tech without the training. As one tech-loving Kansas faculty member explained, "It's absolutely useless and counter-productive to teaching unless it's deployed strategically, used wisely and properly supported."

The ease and speed with which students can cheat and plagiarize. "Students do not consider 'finding an answer' on the internet unacceptable," grumbled one faculty member in Kentucky. "They do not see any difference between 'finding an answer' and researching a topic."

Technology in search of a purpose. "Significant negatives have been caused by having technology shoved at faculty as solutions for which there are no problems," moaned a fine arts instructor in Maryland. "The notion that technology can replace face-to-face [and] allow classes to be larger or remote is pervasive, and has denigrated the quality of education."

Continuous upgrades. As an engineering professor in Minnesota lamented, "[Just] when I learn how to use it, they change it and I have to start all over."

The cost of tech at the expense of other aspects of education. "Technology will suck financial resources, thus faculty will continue to be underpaid and community college education will continue its steady demise," griped a liberal arts instructor and online coordinator at a New Mexico community college.

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.)

About the Authors

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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