10/05/2011 10:55 am ET | Updated Dec 05, 2011

Technology Students Will Embrace in 2011

Being an incoming freshmen is rough. Moving into your dorm room, securing your class schedule and adjusting to the energy of an active campus could be a lot to handle for first-time college students. Modern students, however, are embracing new technology to maximize their academic and social experiences. From campus apps to classroom appliances, new technologies are all centered around keeping students engaged and informed.

While apps are nothing new to students wielding smart phones, the sophistication behind interactive data is helping freshman prioritize their task lists. Higher ed apps are delivering strategic data aimed at easing the burden of campus life. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has gone to great lengths to automate much of the campus experience by providing a multi-platform app with centralized, intelligent data that relays bus schedules in real-time and interactive maps that guide users to major campus buildings. As campuses continue to invest in student centric technologies, the apps themselves will evolve. Mobile platforms also carry the promise of implementing usability data such as library study room availability and even estimated wait times at student aid offices.

Students are embracing technology within the classroom setting as well. To encourage engagement, instructors are implementing class-wide polling for instant feedback. Delivered as interactive quizzes and retention audits, live student polling is quickly becoming a favorite tool of today's savvy instructors. While 'clickers,' which function much like a television remote, have been university fixtures for the past several years, the technology is a bit clunky for regular use. New polling techniques allow students to text, browse or email responses for a much more natural experience. Results are tallied live and adjusted to represent class size. Anonymity is maintained when responding to sensitive questions and professors can calibrate course material per results. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found 'the great majority of students enjoyed using online polling, thought it enhanced their learning and found it to make class more engaging.'

Across all the new technology entering a campus, the digitization of course material and the introduction of blended learning solutions are likely to be embraced the most. Blended learning solutions are finding regular adoption and a student's experience has never been this comprehensive. As a central element to a blended learning solutions, lecture capture emulates a traditional learning experience by placing students firmly within a native classroom setting. Modern lecture capture solutions not only record a professor's mannerisms and emphasis but also capture presentation material for later playback. In short, it's like DVR-ing the classroom. A student who is struggling with difficult material could easily log onto their course portal and revisit specific portions of a lecture with crystal clear HD playback as if they just activated a time machine. Alternatively, students who prefer split their course time with remote learning are able to benefit from instruction directly from the professor without relying on binge reading usually consistent with poor attendance.

A new school year is an exciting time for faculty and most notably for students. As technology advances, students demand their surroundings not only keep pace with their interest but also engage their 'always connected' lifestyle. Campuses are enjoying the early signs of a learning renaissance as the 'old guard principles of learning' evolve. Students must make considerable adjustments in order to adopt to their surroundings and among the new resources on campus, they're most likely to embrace technology that will simultaneously engage and ease the burden of modern campus living.

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