Day 2 of Educause 2013 has been both information-filled and somewhat fascinating. During the general session this morning, author and renowned game designer, Jane McGonigal, shared some intriguing facts about the power of gaming in higher education. A few facts she shared that I found especially interesting included – 71% of employees are not engaged (at a cost of 300 billion dollars per year), and that the longer you stay in school, the less engaged you become.
Technology in the Classroom Fosters Engagement
One of the primary topics of discussion I’ve heard throughout the last few days has been engagement. In fact, I would argue that one of the greatest results of technology in education seems to be that of engagement.
Of course, I may be a little biased due to my background in videoconferencing, but I believe one technology that has proven to drive engagement is video. One university that has proven this is Utah State University (USU), and during their presentation today, attendees benefitted from their years of experience in distance education.
With the support of the Utah Education Network, USU delivers nearly 400 distance education courses weekly to students across the state. The use of video communications for distance learning has improved life for faculty and students alike. The University makes more efficient use of faculty time, taking programs they teach at their primary locations and offering them to campuses across the state. Before, instructors and students would have to travel, sometimes 30 to 60 miles from rural areas, to attend classes. Video has allowed them to expand course offerings, add degree programs and reach more students.
As video becomes more mobile and integrated with students’ mobile devices, and as colleges and universities implement mobile learning, there are also challenges. Besides integrating devices into instruction, other challenges include network security, staff training and updated infrastructure. To help address this, we have put together a secure mobile learning survival guide that includes best practices, design guidance, case studies and whitepapers.
Regardless of what technologies are used, my biggest takeaway from Educause 2013 was definitely – focus on the student experience. What was yours?