Modernize Your Classrooms with These 7 Technology Upgrades

Today’s college students come armed with plenty of personal technology devices, and they expect the technology in their college and university classrooms to keep pace.

But according to a 2016 Wakefield Research survey of 500 college students, the technology used in college classrooms is not meeting the expectations — or, the needs of today’s tech-savvy students. This is a problem IT and audiovisual (AV) managers in colleges and universities can solve with some simple modernization to their classroom technologies.

The key is to pick the technology upgrades that will have the biggest impact on learning outcomes and improved experience.

High-Impact Technology Upgrades

To get the most out of your modernization efforts, consider these high-impact technologies:

1. Microphones

If students can’t hear the professor, no other technology upgrade you adopt will really matter. Your sound system should be flexible and able to accommodate a single, static speaker or presenter; a single, roving speaker or presenter; and multiple speakers or presenters located around the room.

2. Interactive Learning Tools

Interactive tools that allow students to engage directly with the subject matter include technologies such as smartboards that can feature touch screens, image capture, and content sharing with personal devices; webcams and video conferencing that allow students and teachers to interact remotely; and content collaboration tools. Emerging technologies including 3D printing and virtual laboratories are worth keeping an eye on as well.

Related: Digital Signage Can Improve Learning for K12, College Students

3. Projectors

Laser projectors stole the show at this year’s InfoComm, including ultra-short-throw models perfect for small classrooms and study areas. Laser projectors can also run at full power for an average of 16,000 to 20,000 hours, significantly cutting down the time and cost of bulb replacement.

4. Wireless Presentation

Today’s students are increasingly on the move, and they want their education to be mobile as well. Wireless presentation capabilities can connect students in the classroom to other students, teachers and environments outside the classroom.

In addition, wireless capabilities can improve the experience of students taking online courses from your institution. A survey conducted by Kent State University in 2015 found that the majority of online students miss interacting with professors and other classmates. The survey also found that students were more likely to succeed if they had a personal connection with their professor. Wireless presentation capabilities provide both.

5. Video Conferencing

Video conferencing goes hand-in-hand with wireless presentation to expand the classroom beyond its four walls. Applications include virtual field trips, expanded access for rural students, and  global collaboration with students and experts around the world.

6. Interactive Whiteboards

According to a recent report published by London-based tech market research firm Technavio, the global interactive whiteboard market will grow more than 6 percent annually from now through 2020. Interactive whiteboards are particularly well-suited to blended learning since they can interface with students’ personal devices, can support digital content, and can provide real-time annotation, highlighting and editing directly on the screen.

Also read: How Active Learning Technology Improves Student Outcomes

7. Lecture Recording

Recording lectures and making them available after the actual class means professors can reuse the material and students can learn remotely and at their own pace. Consider improving the quality of your recordings with new technologies like 360-degree cameras that can follow a speaker on the move.

Why Modernizing Technology Matters

Advanced IT and AV tools can enhance good teaching and improve student experiences and outcomes. And students want more of them. Nearly half (48 percent) of the students surveyed by Wakefield Research said collaboration technologies would enhance their learning experience.

Case study: The University of Montana, "An Advanced Learning Experience."