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Teaching with Technology

Top 10 Education Technologies that Will Be Dead and Gone in the Next Decade

In our 2016 Teaching with Technology survey, faculty members offered their predictions on what the future holds for technology in teaching — including what hardware and systems will bite the dust over the next 10 years.

The technologies that exist in classrooms today won't necessarily be the same ones that are around in 10 years. In particular, the days of desktop computers and laptops are numbered, according to educators in Campus Technology's 2016 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.

In an open-ended question, respondents were asked to predict what education tech would die over the next decade. Desktop computers were mentioned by 29 percent of the 408 people who suggested anything at all. That type of tech won hands-down by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 compared to the next most popular choice: clickers, referenced in 16 percent of the votes.

However, desktop computers came in fifth when we asked people to specify which classroom tech they wished would die. The top choice there was the learning management system, followed by student mobile devices and apps; social media; clickers; and overall incompatibilities among applications, hardware and data.

Many of the same items showed up on both lists, but people were also more creative as they pondered what they'd kill off. For example, many proposed doing away with limitations (on wireless coverage, storage space and other capacities) as well as wiring and cabling in any form. We also personally enjoyed these suggestions for possible elimination:

  • "A zillion logins";
  • "Online virtual lab experiences without 'real' hands on";
  • Websites that sell research papers;
  • Having to "goad" students to participate or students not installing software for the class; and
  • "Inflated administrative affection for bloated applications."

Despite those gripes, higher education faculty are an overwhelmingly optimistic bunch when it comes to pondering the years to come. A full 97 percent said they believe that technology will play a positive role in education in the future.

And while respondents were dreaming big, we also asked them to predict which emerging technologies would become important to education in the next decade. The two that blew all other suggestions out of the water were augmented and virtual reality and 3D anything — scanning, printing and design. These two categories were referenced many more times than any other type of technology.

We also rather liked these emerging tech ideas, free for the taking by any ed tech vendor reading these results: data collection using drones, and device/app jamming for the classroom.

As a reminder that institutions vary widely in timeframe for their adoption of technologies, many of the categories that some faculty would like to put out to pasture are the same ones that instructors at other campuses can't wait to get their hands on. Among those referenced multiple times on both sides of the argument: mobile devices, social media, clickers and learning management systems.

Or, as one faculty member in Kansas pointed out, "All past and present instructional technology is valuable. Depending on availability, there is no obsolete instructional technology. Because of diverse subject matter, it's difficult to identify or assess how valuable a given technology is to others."

How you view technology in teaching may have much to do with how well you're able to maintain the emphasis on the real prize for a college education — what one education professor in Louisiana called "traditional learning." By that she meant writing correctly, doing simple mathematics and thinking without technology. "Learning does not always have to be fun," she pointed out. "Learning is a necessary part of life and we need to raise educated individuals."

Said another, "Tech is a fad that makes more work and reduces learning because now, instead of teaching English and writing, I'm teaching a person how to use a computer." As this liberal arts educator at a New Mexico community college added, "Don't get me wrong. I am a 'technogeek' myself. But that is not useful to my students or to learning. Thinking, critiquing, reading, practicing — those are important to learning."

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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