The Professor-Student Tech Gap

When professors were recently asked about technology on campus, here’s what they said:

-5 percent said that their institution “understands how they use or want to use technology.”

– 67 percent are happy with their own technology professional development.

-74 percent said that they incorporate technology into every class or almost every class.

-64 percent said that they teach in what they consider to be a smart classroom.

Of course, students don’t see it the same way:

Sounds like a technology savvy professoriate. But when students were asked whether their professors understand technology and have integrated it into their courses, only 38 percent said Yes. Further, when students were asked about the top impediment to using technology, the top answer was “lack of faculty technology knowledge,” an answer that drew 45 percent of respondents, up from 25 percent only a year ago.

And only 32 percent of students said that they believed their college was adequately preparing them to use technology in their careers.

The gaps between the faculty and student grades on technology may relate in part to different use patterns of students and faculty members when it comes to technology. On every category in the survey, including including some that are not particularly cutting edge, student use outpaced faculty use.

A lot of this, to be frank, isn’t solvable. Growing up with certain types of technology and using them during your formative years is not an experience that can be replicated, especially if you are trying to do merely for professional reasons. That said, the key thing is for schools to figure out exactly which tools contribute most directly to the mission of educating students, and then training their faculty accordingly. Professors don’t need to be armed with the exact same arsenal of tech tools as students.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.