The Digital Debate

Technology in College Classrooms


           When people visit a college campus anywhere in the United States they will see students and even teachers walking around with headphones plugged in and typing away on their phones. Technology is never far from the reaches of today’s college students.

In most classrooms there will be students typing notes on their laptops or tablets instead of pen and paper. For some students this is better since they can’t lose their notes as easily and they can actually read their notes for the students that have bad handwriting or are too slow at writing down the notes on paper. But for the rest of the students, using laptops or tablets to take notes is more of a distraction since they are able to get online and not pay attention to the lecture. Being distracted by technology is why some professors ban the use of computers and using phones during class and if caught they will take off points, though this is usually done in smaller classroom settings and not classes in large lecture halls. Some students also believe that it’s harder to take notes electronically since it’s harder if not impossible to annotate the notes that are recorded.

This is the battle for most students; to take notes electronically or to use the old pen and paper. For most classes it depends on the types of notes that are going to be written down. For math and science based classes it’s harder to type the notes since students have to write down different equations and solving different examples given in class. But for history classes and the like, it’s easier to type the notes while you are listening to the professor talk about the subject.

Technologies in college classrooms are much less high tech than the different types of technology being put in lower grade level classrooms. In most college classrooms, professors will use a slideshow to help with note taking or not even use it at all. While in lower level classrooms, elementary through high school, are being equipped with electronic whiteboards, laptops for every students and even tablets. Colleges are striving to meet the needs of students who use computers and smartphones to communicate with professors and other classmates. Just like there are some lower level schools which are fully integrating technology there are also colleges who are meeting the needs of their incoming students.

In the U.S News’ article about the most connected colleges, “among the top 25 schools on the Most connected list, 12 institutions support an undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 5,000 students, and 19 have fewer than 10,000 students.(Lytle)”. These smaller schools are better equipped to supply students with a higher level of connectivity since they have more money to spend on each student. The number 1 spot on the list goes to Maine’s Bowdoin College which “provides its 1,778 students with discounts for laptops, 24- hour computer labs, wireless access from anywhere on campus, Ethernet access in all dorm rooms, and private cloud storage (Lytle)”. Another college that has been providing better connectivity for their students is Septon Hall in New Jersey, the fifth- ranked school on the list. Septon Hall for the first time this year provided all incoming freshmen with laptops and smartphones (Lytle).

When compared to these schools, West Virginia doesn’t look too great; we aren’t even listed on the U.S News’ article. That being said, West Virginia does have Wi-Fi and Ethernet access in all of its dorms. They also have Wi-Fi internet access in most of its buildings for students to use. Also in most buildings there are multiple computer labs for students of that particular major to use. As for discounts West Virginia only offers a major discount for Dell computers, but in the beginning of the school year in the fall other brands allows for students to buy computers at a discounted rate if they provide proof of being a student. The university’s connectivity index can be greatly increased if they would provide a faster internet access and stronger Wi-Fi for students to connect to if they are out in the halls and not sitting in a classroom.

College is not what it was 10 years ago where students were lucky to have their own computer to do their work. Students now-a-days have laptops and tablets that they use to do their homework and take notes. Colleges need to embrace this need for better connectivity to supply students with the best technology that is offered to help students succeed; whether that is better internet access around campus, more computer labs, giving incoming students computers or even discounts for them to buy computers themselves.


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This entry was posted on November 16, 2012 by .
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