A more technologically dependent Georgia State

Georgia State research finds that massive online open courses (MOOCs) and increased technology use may be a successful way to use the many technologies that students use on a daily basis—such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops.

According to research conducted by Presta Electronics, 38 percent of students cannot go 10 minutes without checking their e-mail, smart phones, tablets or laptops.

The University’s T-ASK project, a series of bi-monthly technological workshops, highlighted information on how to incorporate new technological programs, such as Prezi, into the curriculum.

Clifton Blair, a junior business administration major at Georgia State, believes that implementing more technology in the classroom will both positively and negatively affect classroom performance.

“It would give students the ability to have a more tailored curriculum based on their learning styles, and provide flexibility for the non-traditional student that is juggling work, school and family life,” Blair said.

Se Jung Park, a professor in the Department of Communication, attended the first workshop and thought that it was helpful to the instructors.

“The T-ASK workshops are not only informative, but also instructive for professors to learn how to use technology,” Park said. “Teachers often lag behind the speed of technological advancements and sometimes have a hard time figuring out ways to incorporate technology in the classroom.”

Georgia State has also been experimenting with new ways to teach college classrooms. Since the beginning of this semester, Georgia State has seen a great rise in the number of students wanting to participate in massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness said that Georgia State offered over 100 online classes to students in 2012. There were 5,326 undergraduate students and 2,148 graduate students enrolled in online courses for the 2011-2012 academic year at Georgia State.

According to the Academic Cooperation Association’s official website, many MOOC enthusiasts see the movement of combining technology and the learning experience as “a revolutionary change in the world of learning.”

Although there may be differing views on how technology will shape the future of college classrooms, there is one viewpoint that appears to be consistent throughout: Students—and the way they learn things—are constantly changing.

Jeffery Glas, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, has been teaching American government at Georgia State for two years. Professor Glas and his research team have been focusing on ways in which people reason about politics, i.e. political cognition, while also finding new ways to use technology.

“I am part of a team of researchers investigating the effectiveness of various forms of pedagogy: the classic lecture format, hybrid classes and online classes,” Glas said.

Glas noted that the team of researchers is primarily interested in which educational formats produce the best learning outcomes for students both in the present and in the future.

“I really believe that effectively using modern technology in the classroom provides more opportunities for instructors to get their class engaged in the learning experience,” Glas said. “This is the goal of hybridizing the classroom.”

Hybrid classes offer an alternative method to completing traditional college courses. Students enrolled in hybrid classes receive both a mixture of online and campus-based course instruction from their professors.

Some believe that mixing both online and lecture style learning would alleviate any possible strains on an already-busy schedule for the student and educator.

As the nation becomes more technologically dependent, students and professors continue to adapt to the changing technological world evolving around them.

Phil Kostka is a Ph.D student and has been been at the Department of Communication for three years. Kostka, a graduate assistant, is also a proponent of tech-savvy educators and classrooms.

“Today’s college students are very different when compared to the generations of students before them because the classroom is changing,” Kosta said. “However, the big problem is that it’s not changing quickly enough. This is even more the case today.”

Professor Kostka noted that in 1967, Marshall McLuhan, a philosopher of communication theory, said that the basic approach to teaching had not changed since the 1800s.

“The modern-day student learns much differently than the learning styles of students in the past,” McLuhan said. “It does not mean that the traditional college with classrooms will go away anytime soon, but if college education is actually going to be useful to modern students, the way we teach must change.”

Professor Kostka also said that he believes there will be an increase in the demand for online and hybrid courses since they give students more control over their curriculum.

One article reported that college students spent $13 billion on electronics in 2009, according to Mashable.com. The article, titled “How Tech Is Changing College Life,” cited 91 percent of students using email to communicate with professors.

The article explained Presta Electonic’s prediction of the future: that the 12 million students currently take one or more classes online will increase to 22 million students within the next five years.

Blair said that one negative aspect of a more tech-centered college setting is the freedom it gives to students.

“That,” Clifton said, “could be a recipe for disaster.”