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The Evolving Higher Ed Learning Experience

Education March 19, 2020

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a five-part blog series sponsored by Bose Professional.

Until a decade ago, the collegiate learning experience basically consisted of professors transferring their knowledge to students in the form of traditional classroom settings. Fast forward to today’s learning experience at most higher-ed institutions and we find that the experience is nearly 100 percent focused on the student.

In our last AV Trends and Insights post, we addressed the ever-growing popularity of esports and how higher ed institutions are leveraging technology as they create on-campus esports programs. This article takes a deeper dive into how the college and university learning experience continues to evolve for students – and the role technology plays in that experience.

“Technology has evolved and so has the teaching/learning experience,” said Brad Sousa, CTO at AVI Systems. “Everything a student wants to know, he or she can access from a smartphone – in the moment. This has totally morphed how instruction is delivered and it’s changed the learning experience placing more emphasis on students’ personal preferences.”

Teaching with Technology

Professors today must learn to leverage technology and develop a new role for themselves in the college or university classroom. Students no longer show up to a college-level course with the expectation their professor will spoon-feed them information for an hour before they move on to their next class. Instead, they expect to collaborate with their peers and professor in order to learn.

Well-designed and integrated technology becomes a critical component that assists with information sharing, problem-solving and collaboration.

Classrooms are places where knowledge is created. Of course, there are still analog materials in the classroom (whiteboards, paper and notebooks) but the space must also incorporate educational technology that enables mobility and supports students’ varied activities and rates of learning. Some of the adaptive technology now used in classrooms enables:

  • Highly flexible spaces that support new behaviors of learning
  • Blended learning (part online, part in person) all supported with the use of customized apps and software delivered to mobile devices
  • Software designed to be accessible across many devices and that supports multiple users so they can collaborate and converse virtually both inside a classroom and as needed away from the classroom

The Modern Classroom and Limitless Information

In today’s typical classroom, students have access to, on average, three or four screens including their mobile phone, a classroom video display (or several), a portable computer and a tablet – all used to validate a professor’s commentary and fact-check data points on the fly.

With this rapid flow of information, students expect limitless access – information whenever they want, however they want – and this includes when they’re sitting in a classroom. The technology used to deliver this access plays a role in everything a college or university does from recruitment to instruction to graduation and how schools continue to engage with alumni after they complete their education.

Create Meaningful Experiences on Campus

Students expect an immersive experience that is meaningful and specific to their interests.

Consider the initial recruitment process that college admissions departments use today. Tech is used to welcome potential students on campus and that welcome gets translated to Instagram and other social media from the get go.

Universities want students to feel as if they are known and appreciated before they ever commit to the institution. Beyond the welcome, institutions are investing in and leveraging technology such as video wall displays, interactive classrooms and labs, and much more to ensure each and every student has access to the educational technology needed in order to excel and learn.

Is it all a big distraction when it comes to classroom learning? The answer is an emphatic, “No!”

“Students have grown up with this," said Sousa. "And the faster educators can embrace the technology and put it to positive use, the better."

College is meant to prepare students and get them ready for the world ahead. Technology plays a critical role in that experience. Real-time updates, a vast online library of literature and information, and virtual collaboration environments are quickly becoming the means for guiding students and creating these experiences. 

"That’s how we work today and that’s what should be happening in every classroom on campus,” said Sousa.

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