- Mobile phones are everywhere on campus, but faculty members are undecided about whether they belong in the classroom, according to Campus Technology.
- In its third-annual Teaching with Technology Survey, one in four faculty members said they ban cellphones in the classroom while an equal share said they allow them. Roughly half said they allow the devices with some limitations on their use.
- Smartphones, in particular, have the potential to be a useful learning tool, but many students "do not see their smartphones as micro-computers that can do so much more" than gaming and texting, one respondent said.
Smart technology is already integrated with campus life and that relationship is only expected to deepen — meaning limits on students' technology use could become harder to enforce. Several colleges are experimenting with virtual assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Echo Dot, placing the voice-activated devices in dorms and other facilities and programming them to answer questions specific to student life such as business hours for campus buildings and cafeteria menu options.
The challenge is to ensure the devices are actually useful to students and faculty members, those colleges told The Chronicle of Higher Education. Arizona State University, for example, offered scholarships for students to improve Echo Dot capabilities for use on its campus. Early adoption among students has identified other uses, such as giving appointment reminders and notifying them of canceled classes.
That feedback aligns with research from higher education software company Ellucian, which found students want a more personalized experience from personal assistant apps and devices integrated with the classroom and campus life. That includes career preparation support, tuition and financial aid information, course registration assistance and grade tracking.
Apps and software that boost collaborative also are needed. EdTech Magazine shared five tech tools that are popular in higher education classrooms for their ability to let students and faculty members work together regardless of location. They include cloud-based document sharing apps such as Google Docs, messaging app Slack and virtual reality and video conferencing software.
Students also said they would like the number of platforms required to access information related to campus and their education to be reduced, streamlined and centralized, Ellucian found.