College Students Provide Perspective on Classroom Engagement and Digital Content

College students from around the country participated in a panel discussion to share their opinions on digital content, online learning and information accessibility in higher education.

Below are some of the questions asked by the moderator and the students’ responses.

What are you doing in technology today that you were not doing two years ago?

  • Using eBooks rather than traditional textbooks
  • Watching YouTube videos to learn
  • Creating and participating in Blogs
  • Conducting research using Google and Wikipedia

How has your learning style changed due to technology?

  • Taking more online classes so that work and school can be balanced better and for the  convenience of learning at home
  • Listening to  lectures more than once as they’re so often now available online in a recorded video
  • Do not need to miss class and fall behind due to unexpected issues (weather, family, illness, etc.) as material is available online

The students listed what they thought were best practices used by teachers:

  • Continuously updated announcements in Blackboard that tell the student what to do
  • Syllabus always right there and easily accessible
  • Material that is well organized and can be found with just a couple of clicks
  • Timely feedback so that students always know where they stand in the class
  • The ability to interact with peers and the instructor using Discussion boards
  • The use of step-by-step video tutorials
  • Synchronous communication (the instructor is available online at certain times / days in a virtual office)

( Note:  Students now expect teachers to fully utilize Bb and are frustrated when some teachers do not use it or use very minimally.)

When studying, preparing, and doing homework, what other digital resources do you use?

  • CDs in the back of the book
  • Google and Google Scholar
  • YouTube
  • The College library with database resources
  • Wikipedia as a good starting point and to get a quick overview,  then on to more credible Web sites

What is your advice for professors when incorporating digital content, technology, or devices in classrooms?

  • Instructors should use technology in their personal lives (as students do) so that they understand it well and use it more in the classroom
  • Take advantage of faculty technology training to be comfortable with it
  • Use texting to provide information (such as when class is cancelled)
  • Incorporate social media into classrooms to help keep students engaged and connected
    (students use Facebook extensively and teachers can use it to their advantage)

What makes a course standout?

  • Synchronous communication opportunities with the instructor and other students using tools such as Instant Messaging or Skype (the panel of students brought up communication opportunities several times)
  • A variety of available materials in addition to the traditional textbook
  • Lectures that  include real-world examples of how to apply the knowledge



About clkautz
Affiliate Faculty School of Computing and Information Systems Grand Valley State University

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