Teaching with Technology Survey

Smartwatches Deemed Least Valuable Technology in the Classroom

In our second annual Teaching with Technology Survey, faculty revealed what technologies they use in the classroom, the devices they most value, what they wish for and more.

Smartwatches may be one of the hottest gadgets in the consumer market — making up nearly a third of all wearables sales this year — but the climate in the classroom is noticeably cooler for the wrist-worn devices. In our 2017 Teaching with Technology Survey, smartwatches came in dead last in the list of technologies faculty consider essential or valuable for teaching and learning. Just 9 percent of faculty called the devices "valuable" (an increase from 5 percent in 2016), and not a one deemed them "essential." What's more, 9 percent of respondents considered smartwatches "detrimental."

When we asked faculty what computing devices were most valuable for teaching and learning, laptops came out on top, considered "essential" by 54 percent of respondents (up from 49 percent in 2016). Workstations (defined as higher-end computers with faster processors, more RAM, more storage and dedicated graphics cards) came in second, followed by all-in-one computers, traditional desktops and detachable tablets. (The lineup was similar last year.)

This year's survey revealed an upward shift in classroom technology use. Forty-three percent of respondents said they spend 76 percent or more of their instructional time using technology — quite a jump up from the 20 percent who said the same in 2016. And while 9 percent of faculty in 2016 said they never use technology in their courses, that figure dropped to zero this year.

We wanted to know what kinds of devices and hardware are really in play in the classroom, so we asked faculty to dish on what they're using now, what they'll use in the next year and what they wish for in the future. The top five most common pieces of hardware in our respondents' classrooms are not that surprising: traditional desktop computers or workstations (in use by 84 percent of respondents); traditional laptops (77 percent); non-interactive projectors (72 percent); non-interactive, large-screen displays (63 percent); and mobile phones (58 percent). That list has changed very little from last year.

Some of our respondents' top wished-for hardware includes 3D scanners, detachable tablets, virtual reality gear, 3D printers and interactive, large-screen displays  — all items that appeared on last year's wish list, albeit in a slightly different order.

The most common software used in our respondents' classrooms: word processing (in use by 97 percent of respondents); presentation software (96 percent); learning management systems (93 percent); online video services (90 percent); and gradebooks (89 percent). The same tech dominated last year as well.

And the most wished-for software: animation software, adaptive learning and games, which took the top three spots last year as well.

Lastly, we looked at course materials. Electronic textbooks are up, in use by 18 percent of respondents this year, compared to 13 percent in 2016. About three-quarters of faculty (74 percent) are using a mix of digital and paper-based textbooks, while 8 percent are going the traditional route with paper. Seventy-eight percent use free or low-cost open educational resources for instruction, up from 73 percent last year — good news for those grappling with the high cost of traditional textbooks.

The full results of the Teaching with Technology Survey appear in the July 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

Our survey polled 232 faculty members across the country about their use of technology in the classroom, their likes and dislikes, their predictions for the future and more. The majority of respondents (68 percent) come from public institutions, with 28 percent from private nonprofits and 4 percent working at for-profit schools. Seventy-two percent work at four-year colleges or universities; 26 percent are at community colleges (the remaining 2 percent designated their institutional level as "other").

Respondents represent institutions of a range of sizes, with about one-third (32 percent) working in colleges or universities with 2,500 to 9,999 students. Just under half (45 percent) of respondents are from institutions with 10,000 students or more.

Our respondents are veterans of higher education: The largest group (47 percent) has more than 20 years of experience, with 81 percent logging at least 11 years in the field.

The top three most common school and college types among our respondents are education (22 percent), business/business administration (17 percent) and liberal arts (12 percent). But overall, respondents work in a wide range of disciplines, from engineering and medicine to humanities and fine arts. The top 10 states with the most survey respondents are New York, Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

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