Game Changer – Education and Information Technologies
Edited by Diana G. Oblinger
Information Technology can be a game changer in higher education. We have all seen the new experiences IT can create but the real strength is in the ability to create new models that will serve new groups of students, serve larger numbers of students and produce improved learning outcomes. “IT serves as a delivery channel for information of all kinds, increasing convenience, access, and flexibility” (p. 38). Technology can improve the College experience and this is not just the convenience of courses and curriculum. Technology can provide streamlined, user-friendly experiences where the actual value of the education is in the interactions between students, faculty and the community. “The real value of a course may lie in the critical thinking a faculty member encourages in a student, or the integration of content with real-world experience, and the motivation to continue learning and solve important problems (p.39).
Today, learning is experiential, socially constructed and interdisciplinary. Learning is no longer strictly tied to the classroom or lecture. Allowing students to interact with digital information, videos, visualizations and simulations provides an augmented reality that fits with our current learning theories and supports a more diverse community and broader learning outcomes.
Support services augmented with information technologies become portals of information, learning commons or integrated support services where advising allows students to arrange learning around themselves and their personal growth rather than around courses or curriculum. Technology allows students to make good choices about a program of study and provides ability to choose an entire sequence of courses that is a game changer for today’s students.
“Information technology allows institutions to unbundle and rebundle many activities that were previously bound to a physical location” (p.47) and this ability to mix and match makes it possible for higher education to address the issues related to accountability, graduation results, competitive markets and a greater student experience.
The evolution of higher education has often created silos where academic and student affairs units do not work collaboratively. However, partnerships between faculty and student affairs are now being identified as critical to fulfilling the educational mission of universities (Fisher, 2011). This technology revolution has connected everything and everyone and empowers individuals with information. Teams can be formed around any subject matter where the power in the room is non-existent – “individual contributions are not limited by training, title, or employer” (p.42). Collaborations are essential for solving higher educations as well as society’s problems. “These collaborations are important for higher education because they represent real-world experiences, personal contributions and opportunities for research” (p. 42).
Technology enables sharing independent of time and location and therefore opens the door for research sharing opportunities amongst a diverse range of institutions. Resource sharing can include book and digital-document delivery, e-resource management as well as networks, processing capabilities and data storage.
Technology can change the game in informed decision-making and can address the concerns of local and national governments. Higher education has adopted analytics to address the demands for accountability and greater efficiencies. Using analytics can “track and predict student performance, provide alerts to students when their patterns indicated they are at risk of poor performance” (p.45) as well as connect faculty and advisors to potential problems.
We owe it to ourselves to use technology wisely – It truly can be a game changer.
Oblinger, D. (2012), Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies. EDUCAUSE
Fisher, D. (2011). Leaders in Learning Student Affairs in Canada in the 21st
Century Implications for the Canadian association of College and University Student Services: CACUSS