Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
According to McGraw-Hill Education and Hanover Research, 81 percent of students on college campuses are using their mobile devices like smartphones to study.
Ole Miss is following the trend, with smart phones and tablets now more than ever being crucial to the learning atmosphere.
Mitchell Edwards, a freshman at Ole Miss, believes that technology is key.
“In this day and age, the internet is a reality,” he says. “The abilities and resources it offers to students are endless, from troves of information that would be unreachable without information technology, to free forums to exchange ideas and to learn from others.”
Professor Dawn Wilkins has been a Computer Science professor at Ole Miss for 20 years.
She likes the idea of using technology in the classroom, but knows the risks.
“The primary reason would be cheating. Students are creative and will find ways to manage.”
However, she also believes it has its benefits.
“For students it’s more about organization and research. Most use the blackboard app.”
Despite the growing popularity, not everyone is swayed by the idea of smartphone devices in a classroom setting.
John Neff, a history professor at Ole Miss, does not own a smartphone himself, and won’t allow students to use any form of technology in his classroom.
According to him, mobile devices are useful, but not for studying.
“Students are told that electronics will make being a student easier; this is not true. Being a student always involves hard work, with or without technology. There are no shortcuts.”
Neff also believes that, in some learning environments, taking notes on a technological device defeats the purpose.
“Students need to become active listeners, able to discern the structure of what is being presented, and then to take notes in such a way that they capture the essence of what is being said.”
Clickers, a tool used in many classrooms to encourage students to interact by answering questions electronically, can now be replaced by smartphones, but Wilkins says there are risks.
“The question goes to how distracted the student will be using their device. They could play with the clicker on their phone, but might also be texting their best friend.”
“Educators are rarely knowledgable about technology to the degree that they can avoid being stampeded into making very bad decisions,” claims Neff.
Wilkins argues that it can be done, with the right amount of effort.
“Some are more willing to put in more creativity and thought to figure out how to use it purposefully.”
Despite the different views, it is hard to argue that technology is taking over the learning environment.
According to Hanover Research’s report, 77 percent of students surveyed said using technology has improved their grades, and 48 percent saying using their smartphones saves them time during studying.
Students like Edwards say keep the tech coming.
“I believe technology opens doors to further learning by offering more information and learning resources than would be available without it.”