High Tech Higher Ed

Each year, new students enter the exciting world of higher education and bring along with them an updated list of demands. What are they demanding for the next four years? More technology in the classroom.

The need for technology in the classroom is driven by two forces – the increased cost of higher education, and the new generation of millennials.

Due to the increasing costs of higher education, institutions are required to change in favor of student convenience, with the traditional model of college being left behind for a more technological and flexible approach to learning (Van Der Werf & Sabatier, 2009). The increased costs require students to work while earning their degree, shrinking the window of availability for being on campus. With the majority of courses being offered in the “traditional” approach of in-person lecture style courses during working hours, students are forced to choose between earning a living wage or their degree to further their career prospects.

New millennials see their education futures built almost entirely around technology. Even students who welcome the traditional approach to higher education will still demand increased levels of convenience than the traditional student we have seen up until this point in higher education (Blackboard, 2013). Students will increasingly expect access to classes from cell phones, opting to monitor classes, participate in discussions, lectures, study groups, papers, and communicate with professors all online (Van Der Werf & Sabatier, 2009).

Though the majority of students can recall professors excluding cell phones, tablets, and laptops from the lecture hall. Technology in the classroom should not be viewed as an area needing to be banned, but a strength to educators and students alike. Students who learn from multiple modes of technology outperform other students who rely on individual forms, or remove technology form their educational environment (Cisco, 2008). Students are now able to provide digital presentations, have online textbooks, engage with others in the classroom via social media, and more.

Not only are there multiple ways for students to implement technology into their learning, educators should take this opportunity to explore all of the possibilities that are out there as well.  Educators are able to communicate with students via social media platforms, reaching their medium and increasing the likelihood students will respond. Additionally, educators can encourage the use of sites such as Google Hangout, where students can meet virtually for book clubs, expand presentation audiences, invite in guest speakers, go on virtual fieldtrips, work on projects together and more. The opportunity is out there, educators only need to provide the methods of technology to the student, and the possibilities are truly endless.



In the year 2020, it is expected 40 percent or more (Van Der Werf & Sabatier, 2009) students will elect to take courses on-line, more than double the current rate. One challenge educators face is how they can connect students with the professor and the curriculum without meeting face to face on a daily basis, as in the traditional approach. Are institutions prepared for this drastic increase? If not, what needs to be done to bridge the on-line learning gap? What methods of technology will educators need to implement to meet the demands of these students?



B. (2013). The Changing Landscape of Higher Education. Blackboard. Retrieved from http://www.blackboard.com/cmspages/getfile.aspx?guid=862b51ef-86e5-4514-9e97-34bdfe520ff8

Baker, F. (2012). Media Literacy in the K–12 Classrooms. International Society for Technology in Education.

Cisco (2008). “Multimodal Learning Through Media:What the Research Says.” Retrieved from http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/solutions/industries/docs/education/Multimodal-Learning-Through-Media.pdf

Pathe, S. (2014, September 29). Why Are Fewer People Going to College.PBS Newshour. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/why-are-fewer-people-going-to-college/

Scheibe, C., & Rogow, F. (2012). The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy : Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World. Corwin: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Students Demanding More Technology in Education. (2012). ICEF Monitor. Retrieved from http://monitor.icef.com/2012/10/students-demanding-more-technology-in-education/

Technology in college – Google Search. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from https://www.google.com/search?q=technology in college

Van Der Werf, M., & Sabatier, G. (2009). The College of 2020: Students.Chronicle Research Services, 1-58.


Teaching Digital Media and Literacy

In 2016, it is rare to see someone who is disengaged in some form of media. With the growing popularity of cell phones, tablets, and social media, a world of information is available instantaneously.  As technology improves and becomes more accessible, the responsibility to teach digital and media literacy skills raises a few eyebrows.

Media conveys messages through visuals, language, and sound, and are then mass-produced for a target audience, and mediated by some form of technology (Scheibe & Rogow, 2012). This definition includes media books, magazines, newspapers, and other forms of non-technological media. While the initial responsibility to teach safety measures regarding digital and media literacy falls on the parents, the majority of the responsibility to educate students in this field falls on the educators.

The goal of the educator to teach media literacy, is to provide the necessary tools to the student to navigate their own experiences with media and think for themselves (Scheibe & Rogow, 2012). Allowing students to have an open mind and critical thinking skills in the messy world of digital media literacy is a difficult task for any educator. With instant access to what is happening around the world, students are not only given a minute by minute update, but the opportunity to view the opinion of others and voice their own personal thoughts.

For example, with the upcoming election, mixed media messages are coming from either presidential nominee regarding current national and global events. While thousands of individuals jump on-line to “like” or “retweet” these messages, it is key to remember all media messages are constructed (Scheibe & Rogow, 2012). Scheibe and Rogow (2012), express this fundamental concept is valuable to keep in mind, as it is not only the message itself that is valuable, but the team behind the message.

As seen in the links bTwitterImage.jpgelow, there is a team behind both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaigns, who aid in constructing these messages on their Twitter feeds, not only to get a “like” or a “retweet” but to gain voters and supporters. Each message they send out to their millions of followers, is for a purpose. Due to this purpose, educators must teach their students critical thinking skills, including an awareness of interrelated critical questions, ability to ask and answer critical questions at appropriate times, and the desire to actively use critical questions (Scheibe & Rogow, 2012).

Unfortunately, media literacy education, is a difficult area for students to understand, as they not only learn about media, but how to critique media messages. People want to believe those they trust in are good, and their word is true. It is the key challenge for educators, to not only have their students read into the surface of the media being thrown at them, but to take a critical approach, and understand the deeper meaning behind the message. Students need to consider who the target audience is, what the purpose of the message may be, and the impact it could have on the future. It is key for the educator to convey to the student they are able to use their individual skills, beliefs, and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.

In order to do so, educators must develop a skill set within their students, allowing the necessary knowledge to decode digital and media messages. This skill set includes distinguishing fact from opinion, analyzing points of view and identifying biases, drawing inferences, and making and defending conclusions using document based evidence. Educators also need to ensure students have a wide variety of media methods to decode, including contemporary and historic, high and low tech, mainstream and alternative, commercial and independent, professionally and user generated, and representative of different media genres. To best aid the student, educators must insure they leave behind their personal judgements, to allow the students to determine what is right on their own.

What tips should educators be provided, to ensure they will not pass their judgements or biases onto their students when decoding digital and media literacy? For additional helpful tips, click on the links below:







Baker, F. (2012). Media Literacy in the K–12 Classrooms. International Society for Technology in Education

Google Images. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/images/digitalmedia_400px.jpg

Scheibe, C., & Rogow, F. (2012). Critical thinking in a multimedia world. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.