It is no surprise that online homework and digital resources are becoming more and more utilized in the higher ed classroom. In my role with Macmillan Learning, I work with instructors around the country to support implementation of our digital learning tools. I assist with online training, demonstrations, and provide basic pedagogical support. With the rise of these digital features, e-books, and the abundance of online learning systems, people are often concerned about the effectiveness of these resources, and question the benefits. Having worked with a variety of instructors around the country, I have gleaned some insight about the benefits for both the students and the instructors.
First and foremost, we live in a digital world. Today’s students live online and spend a good chunk of their day on the web. One study out of Baylor University found that the average female college student spends an average of 10 hours a day on their smartphones, while the typical male college students spend nearly eight hours a day on his smartphone. Another study polled graduate and undergraduate students at a mid-sized Indiana University and found that nearly 90% used a laptop for mobile learning. Students are living in a digital world, and it makes sense to bring the modern classroom to them. The reality is that more and more tasks take place online. Students have to apply for college online, they pay their bills online, and much of their social interactions take place online. Using technology in the classroom is preparing students for a future that is increasingly more rooted in technology.
Utilizing technology in the classroom also creates an opportunity to implement and experiment with new and exciting resources, for both the instructor and the student. Whether it is video resources, adaptive learning activities, or digital tools that support a flipped classroom, instructors have more resources than ever to bring to their students, both in and out of the classroom. Furthermore, students find these activities to be engaging and supportive to their learning process. When Macmillan Learning polled students about our adaptive quizzing system, Learning Curve, we found that over 90% of students found Learning Curve to be deeply engaging (over half of the students used Learning Curve even when it wasn’t assigned), and over 90% of students said that it helped them manage their study time and get better grades. Implementing resources that meet students’ needs, and utilize the platforms that they are already using is a great way to build credibility in the classroom and engage more effectively with students.
Technology in the classroom also gives students a new opportunity to access information instantly, at any place, at any time of day, and gives them the ability to communicate with their instructor on a more personal level. Students now can view activities and resources anywhere and immediately communicate with their instructor about their thoughts or questions. This is not something to take lightly. ESL students, shy students, and students who may feel uncomfortable asking questions in a lecture now have an opportunity to get the personalized help that they require in a lower stakes way. They have access to an abundance of activities to meet their needs, and they have the ability to access their instructor via email and mobile messaging.
Instructors now have more tools than ever to assess student performance and understanding. In one Macmillan Learning online platform, Flipit, instructors now have more data and statistics about their class performance to bring into the classroom. Prior to lecture, instructors can see information about their students answers to questions, the % of students who answered any given answer, and even see the students’ explained rationale for selecting their answer. All of this information gives professors a new and exciting way to inform their lectures and perform just in time teaching to better suit their students’ needs.
Finally, technology is a great way to automate many of the tedious and time consuming tasks associated with teaching. This is not something that should be taken lightly. Whether grading assignments, developing and creating quizzes, or simply finding teaching tools, implementing online homework systems can take on many of those tasks and save instructors countless hours. Saving instructors’ time on these tedious tasks gives them more time for one on one instruction with struggling students, or to better curate the content that they want to bring to the classroom.
If you are interested in learning how other instructors are implementing Macmillan Learning technologies, check out our LaunchPad community or schedule some time to speak 1-1 with a digital solutions consultant.