- More than half of students would prefer their classes to incorporate digital learning tools, according to a new report from McGraw-Hill Education. Additionally, 94% of students said digital tools helped them retain new concepts, with students in STEM fields particularly excited about the incorporation of digital learning tools.
- The survey questioned more than 1,000 students, defining digital technology as any kind of tool that "facilitates teaching and learning." Examples ranged from digital course materials and lectures to learning management systems. More than 50% of students reported that digital tools helped them to better understand concepts they originally found difficult, and 60% reported that digital tools had helped them improve their grades.
- Slightly more students reported they used digital materials to prepare for tests or examinations than print materials (70% to 69%, respectively); however, only 38% of students reported using smartphones for class assignments and studying, despite the fact that most students have and use one.
Though many advocates continue to stress the importance of incorporating print materials into classroom instruction, the fact that students are bringing multiple devices to campus suggests they're seeking a more immersive and integrated digital experience in their education and campus life. Most colleges and universities increasingly understand the importance of investing time, staff and resources in bringing digital learning tools and technologies into classrooms. Therefore, schools that want to be seen as attractive options for digitally-inclined students should support innovative educators who find ways to incorporate such tools that differentiate their respective institutions from the pack.
Walden University's Bonnie Mullinix stressed the importance of finding unique ways to use digital tools to build a sense of community in online learning programs during the Online Learning Consortium Innovate 2017 Conference, and the lesson can also apply to incorporating digital tools in general; the application of these tools in a way that offers new collaborative experiences for students, as opposed to a rote recitation of a lecture, will likely attract higher interest. In an Education Dive interview, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business Professor Bob Monroe stressed that the kinds of online learning that mirror in-person instruction will not be as successful as those digital tools and approaches that harness what is uniquely powerful about them, instead of 'copying' in-person instruction.
Though digital is seen as the vanguard in classroom instruction, colleges and universities should ensure that their focus on integrating digital extends throughout the administration, particularly to their marketing department. Large numbers of students, particularly those from first-generation and low-income backgrounds, report that they first start considering schools by using social media, but 26% of chief marketing officers gave their schools low marks in how their respective institutions fund digital marketing in a recent survey conducted by TERMINALFOUR. Many of these same officers reported that their digital marketing budgets were static, or even declining. School leaders should take into account the probability that these departments will need to digitally evolve just like classroom instruction and should not cut their digital funding too drastically.