Archives for October 2011

Students and Technology in 2011

Each year, Educause completes a study of technology use in higher education. The 2011 ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology…

…sheds lights on how information technology affects the college experience. ECAR has conducted this annual study since 2004, and though students’ ownership and utilization of technology changes from year to year, students consistently rely upon their instructors and institutions to meet their technology expectations and needs. The 2011 study differs from past studies in that the questionnaire was reengineered and responses were gathered from a nationally representative sample of 3,000 students in 1,179 colleges and universities.

While complete details about the study are available, here is a nice infographic that summarizes the key findings:


Here is a listing of the key findings displayed in the infographic above:


  • 43% of students agree their institution needs more technology
  • Only 1 in 4 (22%) of students strongly agree their institution uses the technology it has effectively
  • Only 1 in 5 (19%) strongly agree technology is integrated seamlessly into their courses
  • More than 1 in 7 (15%) of students think technology breaks or is broken more often than it is used in the classroom.
  • Students like basic online services at their institutions, with the following percentage of students saying their institution does an excellent of good job at these online services:
    • Course registration: 86%
    • Making grades available: 81%
    • Offering library resources: 75%
    • Making transcripts available: 70%
    • Making financial aid information available: 70%
    • Offering textbooks for sale: 53%
  • Students say they learn more in blended learning environments:
    • No online components: 20%
    • Some online components: 58%
    • Completely online: 9%


  • Sudents value the technologies instructors use, and use effectively! Percentage of students responding “extremely effectively” among instructors who use:
    • Projector: 65%
    • Wi-Fi: 59%
    • Laptop computer: 58%
    • Desktop computer: 57%
    • Document camera: 56%
    • Gaming device: 55%
    • Printer: 54%
    • HDTV: 53%
    • Thumb drive: 52%
    • Digital SLR camera: 50%
  • About 1 in 3 students (31%)think the instructor often requires the help of others to get technology up and running successfully
  • More than 1 in 2 students (51%) think they know more about how to use technology than their professors
  • 39% of students wish their instructors used e-mail more often
  • About 1 in 3 students (31%) wish their instructors used e-books or e-textbooks more often
  • 32% of students wish their instructors used a course or learning management system more often


  • Applications most frequently used by students:
    • Word processors: 96%
    • Institution library website: 88%
    • Presentation software: 85%
    • Spreadsheets: 83%
    • Course or learning management system: 73%
    • E-books or e-textbooks: 57%
    • Programming languages: 33%
    • E-portfolios: 21%
  • Almost all students use e-mail (99%), text messaging (93%) and Facebook (90%)
  • Communication tools most frequently used (several times a day):
    • E-mail: 75%
    • Texting: 74%
    • Facebook: 58%


  • Technology ownership: A majority of undergraduates own about a dozen devices:
    • iPad: 8%
    • Netbook: 11%
    • eReader: 12%
    • Handheld games: 38%
    • Desktop computer: 53%
    • Webcam: 55%
    • Smart phone: 55%
    • HDTV: 56%
    • iPod: 62%
    • Stationary games: 66%
    • Thumb drive: 70%
    • DVD player: 75%
    • Printer: 81%
    • Laptop computer: 87%
  • Essential technology: Percentage of students who said these technologies are “extremely valuable” for academic success:
    • Desktop computer: 57%
    • Thumb drive: 64%
    • Printer: 73%
    • Wi-Fi: 78%
    • Laptop computer: 81%
  • 37% of students have used smartphones for academics in the past year
  • How smartphone owners use their devices for academics:
    • E-mailing professors: 66%
    • Checking grades: 62%
    • Texting other students about coursework: 61%
    • Looking up information on the Internet in class: 45%
    • Texting professors: 19%

2011 SLATE Star Award

My colleagues and I with the NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center received the 2011 SLATE Star Award in recognition of outstanding contributions and dedicated service to SLATE – Supporting Learning And Technology in Education. We were recognized and presented with the award at the 2011 SLATE Conference at the University of Chicago.
Stephanie Richter, Caroline Conlon, Ken Sakowski presenting award, Jason Rhode, Olga Urban
SLATE – Supporting Learning And Technology in Education, the Midwest Blackboard Users Group, was created from the concept that all institutions that are deploying and/or currently using Web-based components to enhance their teaching and learning activities, have the same questions, the same challenges, and the need for the same solutions. By drawing together the expertise of the people involved in the entire academic experience and those designing, supporting, and using these applications; faculty, support staff, systems administrators, instructional designers, librarians, and students – a broader and more accessible and dynamic support system could be established. The current membership of SLATE encompasses over 80 institutions including K-12, Higher Education, and the Corporate sector.

The SLATE mission is: To support learning and technology in education through communication, collaboration, and innovation while developing a community of practice.

The SLATE Star Award was established in 2004 as a way to recognize an individual who has shown leadership, demonstrated initiatives, presented new ideas, improved procedures, established effective relationships or provided substantial resources that have effected the success and promotion of SLATE, the educational experience, and/or the general Blackboard Community of Practice. For more information about SLATE, visit

Teaching with iPads: Tips and Techniques

Jason leading workshop
On September 16, 2011, I led a 4 hour hands-on workshop for faculty at Chicago State University titled, “Teaching with iPads: Tips and Techniques” where I shared tips and techniques for teaching with iPads. Faculty brought their own iPad and Google Account to participate! They were also asked to install the following free apps: Evernote, Google, Dropbox, ShowMe, iBooks, Qrafter, Audioboo.

The interactive online handout and resource site prepared for the session is available at

LMS Upgrade: Roadmap for Successful Implementation

Panel Discussion
The most recent upgrade to Blackboard 9.1 at Northern Illinois University has proven to be very successful and has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from faculty and teaching staff. This panel discussion led by NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center staff at SLATE 2011 explored the strategies and practices that made the upgrade a success. We shared the logistics of the support plan, implementation timeline, and the publicity plan. Additionally, we discussed the testing strategies, approach to documentation and the training support offered to NIU faculty, staff and teaching assistants.

Those planning an upgrade for the own institutions can download copies of the upgrade documents from to customize and adopt them for their own needs.