Technology has enabled students and colleges to accomplish a lot online. Gone are the days of waiting in line to register for classes or even sitting in a classroom! More colleges are moving courses, orientations and administrative tasks online.
Sounds great and efficient, right?
Yes, but if you’ve read our new eBook, you know that humans naturally gravitate toward social interactions and college students are no exception to this genetic rule. Their college experience may be unfolding more and more online, yet students haven’t changed from fundamentally social beings to creatures content to sit alone and surf the web in isolation. They want that same social interaction in online college spaces. They expect a campus community online.
We’ve talked about what prospective students like to see from colleges online, but the most recent Educause Center for Applied Research National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology got us thinking about the new social online experience students now expect from their colleges.
Building on basics
A whopping 78% of students in the Educause survey agreed that technology simplifies administrative activities. The only thing surprising about this finding are the students who make up the 22% who didn’t agree. They must be long line enthusiasts.
Registering for classes, paying tuition bills, receiving financial aid, checking grades, reviewing transcripts, and buying textbooks online reduce student headaches and return valuable free time. An online social college experience should build on these basic activities that college students already expect to be able to accomplish online.
Enhanced connections through technology
The more interesting findings from the Educause study pointed to a shift from students expecting standard online resources to desiring more dynamic opportunities to engage in online education-related activities that offer experiences similar to social interactions found in the classroom, the dining hall or even the library.
Remember how college students are social beings? Turns out that students surveyed want technology and their college online experiences to enhance both learning and connections to others. Over 60% of students agreed that technology makes them feel more “connected to professors and other college/university staff.”
We also see social connections in the following ways students indicated that they wanted to use online learning technologies:
- More use of learning management systems, online discussions, and social studying sites. These learning technologies take the classroom experience online and allow students to interact with each other as well as the professor. Social studying sites allow the growing population of non-traditional commuter students to not miss out on the traditional impromptu late-night library study session.
- More incorporation of wikis. Having a community of students contribute to a wiki and define a collection of knowledge could almost be the definition of a social online college learning experience.
- Help learning how to use e-portfolios, geotagging, and video creation software. Students recognize the importance of using software that enables them to share important information and connect with others online. E-portfolios are gaining popularity as college seniors head out into the job market and need to showcase their talents and what they learned in college.
Students want to ramp up the social aspects of learning technologies and online experiences.
Instant updates on what’s going on
At Localist, we were particularly interested in what college students had to say about using technology to find events and other happenings on campus. While 66% of students agreed that technology helps them feel more connected to what’s going on at their colleges, we think that percentage can increase. By using a socially integrated online calendar like Localist, colleges can further enhance the social connections that students want to see online. Online social calendars allow students to find communities based on their interests, see who’s attending events, and easily interact with other event attendees before they even arrive at the concert, lecture, intramural kickball game or free coffee break.
The numbers say: bring the college social experience online. Your students will thank you for it.
Interested in learning more about how social media can affect your community? Check out our eBook, “Why Your Online Calendar Should Be Social.”
Photo Credit: Killer Smile by kahala