Dear BI Career Consultants:

Dear BI Career Consultants:
How can we measure the true impact of technology on learning and student success?

Dr. Samuel M. Hampton
Program manager, Executive Leadership Foundation,
Technology Transfer Project
Washington

While the issues in improving technology in higher education are complex, I am most interested in the successful improvement of faculty and instructors’ technology skills. This is critical if students are to benefit and if colleges and universities are to move forward in earnest with technology enhancements.
I think one of the best indicators regarding the impact of technology in education is the ability of faculty and instructors to create a learning environment that promotes the use of technology in the workplace.
For example, most employers these days assume that when a student graduates from college he or she will be able to write a document on the word processor, include a chart or a spreadsheet in that document and attach it to an e-mail to send to one or more recipients. These basic skills require the integration of different software applications and a solid understanding of how they work together to increase productivity. Faculty and instructors on campus should be encouraged to develop a learning environment that gives students the opportunity to complete school assignments, research, communications and presentations using technology.
Integrating technology into the daily teaching practices of colleges and universities represents a dramatic change that will challenge many faculty and instructors. Higher education leaders must accept this and give faculty and instructors the tools and support they need to embrace technology through appropriate planning and budgeting strategies. As a component of our Technology Transfer Project with historically Black colleges and universities, the Executive Leadership Foundation includes a significant faculty development initiative. This training aims to equip faculty with the skills, hardware and follow-up support they need to use technology in their instructional delivery. I believe that the impact of technology in higher education is realized when students can easily make the transition from the campus environment to the workplace.

Dr. Darnell Williams
Professor of English and graduate education and director, Center for International Development, Langston University, Langston, Okla.

Central to determining the true impact of technology on learning and student success is the understanding of the deep impact technology has on society as a whole. Students need to know how technology has changed the nature of work, communications and our understanding of the development and acquisition of knowledge. When students understand and make use of the myriad ways in which access to information is gained (including technological tools), researchers gain data that can be aggregated and evaluated to measure the level of impact that technology has on student learning and success.
Current research studies on the impact of the use of technology on teaching and learning show that knowledge is not passively received, but actively constructed by learners from a base of prior knowledge, attitudes and values. Therefore, when students can use various technological tools and skills to pursue their own inquiries, find, organize and interpret information, and become reflective and critical about information quality and sources, researchers, once again, are provided measurable data.
Technology is a tool, a series of instruments that can be used to enhance and expand the learning process. Understanding technology and applying the art of Web design, for example, are highly valued skills in today’s workplace. When students demonstrate that they understand the relevance of Web page creation as well as possess the skills to develop one, they are providing data that can be used to measure the impact of technology on learning and student success. 

 — Compiled by Joan Morgan



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