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Connection is critical: Information sharing on college campuses

By Scott Garvin
 
Technology-enabled campuses are critical to your university’s survival — and here’s why.

Aside from the obvious reasons of your students and staff using technology on a daily basis — logging onto the campus network, printing from anywhere, connecting from the classroom to the dorm and more — handheld and mobile devices have also redefined traditional higher education culture as we know it. This revolutionary movement is called "flipped classrooms", and it's turning learning on its head.
 
Student working at home on laptop with coffee

What’s a flipped classroom?

According to Educause, a flipped classroom is an academic model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the scheduled class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects or discussions.1

The idea of flipped classrooms draws on concepts such as active learning, student engagement and hybrid course design.

By using technology such as learning management systems (LMS), email, social media and more, educators can provide content (videos, podcasts, readings, prerecorded lectures, etc.) to students prior to them entering the classroom.
 

The role of the educator

In a flipped classroom, a professor’s role is no longer to stand in front of the classroom and lecture while students diligently take notes to be quizzed or tested at a later date. Instead, educators now act as coaches or advisors — encouraging students in their individual inquiries and collaboration efforts.

A recent Boston Globe article reports that the University of Vermont’s medical school promises to do away with all lectures by 2019 in an effort to produce physicians who are good at listening, fact-finding, critical thinking and collaborating. The article goes on to say that much of what is taught by a professor merely talking is forgotten within weeks, and sometimes is obsolete within years.2
 

Use technology, but not too much

Today, with mobile devices in hand, the answers to almost any of life’s questions can be found within seconds by any student with a cell phone, laptop or tablet. Students must instead learn to analyze the broad scope of information at hand for credibility, relativity, accuracy and usefulness. Again, this is the new role of educators acting as the advisors to a student’s individual path to discovery. These skill sets can be practiced and perfected within the confines of the classroom, where discussion, debates and analysis take precedent over the actual intake of information.

One article found that low and medium uses of technology were more effective in classrooms than high use, and that technology was most effective when it was used as a cognitive tool rather than a presentation tool. That same study also found that students value computer use outside the classroom for activities such as career training and social interaction.3
Students listening to professor in class
The ideal learning situation comes into effect when technology is an extension of the natural student experience, without it being forced or demanded.

"We’re not in the business of filling your head with content — because if we are, we’re going to lose because the internet can do it faster."

Dr. Jose Bowen

Adding value to the classroom

This new concept of learning begs the question: If an educator does just stand and lecture or show videos, what is he or she doing that the student couldn’t go out and find on their own — and probably for a lot less than the price of an average college course? The value of a college education now comes in the classroom experience (debates, discussions, analysis, etc.), while the time outside the classroom is used to log on, tune in and absorb.

In his TEDxLSU talk “Teaching Naked,” Dr. Jose Bowen says "Thinking is more important. We’re not in the business of filling your head with content — because if we are, we’re going to lose because the internet can do it faster. We’re in the business of helping you sort through all of that stuff and really thinking.”4

Dr. Bowen goes on to ask “What is it that we’re going to provide that’s worth the money?”4

The product (an on-campus college education) must be infinitely better than the competition, which now consists of both online and alternative learning options, in order to make it worth its hefty price tag for students. 

Consequently, connection on campus is crucial

To set students up for success in a flipped classroom curriculum, you need to give them the ability to focus on outside class work at their convenience — by tapping into the network on their individual devices from the student center, the classroom, their dorm or even their basketball arena seats  meaning a connected campus is crucial for students' ability to digest content outside the classroom.

This free sharing of information could be the difference between a successful or failed attempt at using these new learning concepts on your campus.

Institutions today must have complete confidence in their network abilities to handle a large variety of student, staff and faculty devices. These devices are often brought from home or individually bought, and are not school sanctioned or provided by the institution, in a practice known as bring your own device (BYOD).

Help students and teachers access, share, collaborate and store information

Directly connect to popular cloud applications from cloud-enabled MFPs.
 
In order to provide the best possible student experience and learning environment, institutions can partner with a provider who has the resources, skills and expertise to set up a robust on-campus network with the ability to handle BYOD. Institutions with these networks and advanced technological components will be better prepared to shift toward flipped classrooms and the free sharing of information.


Contact us to learn more about adding campus-wide information sharing to your institution.
 
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Scott Garvin, Regional Manager, Higher Education, Ricoh USA, Inc., leads strategy development and alignment of Ricoh’s higher education sales organization, and builds strategic customer relationships.
 
 

Footnotes

 

Footnotes

 
1 "Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms." 2012. Educause.
2 Felice J. Freyer. "Who Needs Lectures? Vermont Medical School Chooses Other Ways to Teach. The Boston Globe.
3 Yang, Zheng , Burcin Becerik-Gerber and Laura Mino. "A study on student perceptions of higher education classrooms: Impact of classroom attributes on student satisfaction and performance." August 2013. Building and Environment.
4 Dr. Jose Bowen. "Teaching Naked: Dr. Jose Bowen at TEDxLSU." May 1, 2013. YouTube.