A Reason to Lift the Classroom Tech Ban: Technology Removes Barriers to Higher Ed Success, Study Finds

Contributed By

Melton Littlepage

Chief Marketing Officer at Schoology

A Reason to Lift the Classroom Tech Ban: Technology Removes Barriers to Higher Ed Success, Study Finds

Posted in Evolving Ed | October 28, 2015

It can seem like a student’s entire academic life, up to age 18, is focused on getting into college. But when the time finally comes to move on to the next stage of education, many students struggle more than they anticipated, whether it be financially, academically, or organizationally. Only about 55 percent of students who start college finish, and fewer than 10 percent of the more than 580 public four-year institutions see the majority of their students graduate in four years.

Schoology commissioned a Google Survey of more than 500 students currently pursuing a higher education degree to find out what non-financial barriers they face on the journey toward graduation, and what other factors affect their academic experience and outcomes.

Here’s what we found:

  • Students said that the time it takes to study and complete work is a major obstacle on the journey towards academic success—more than any other factor.
  • This is even more prevalent among women, with 70 percent of females naming “time” as a major barrier to success compared to 59 percent of males.
  • Students facing technology bans in the classroom are also more likely to answer this way—more than three-quarters of students with laptop and tablet bans in class say that “time” is a major obstacle.
  • When it comes to using technology for collaboration and project management, males are more likely to use cloud storage and productivity apps; females are more likely to use email and social media.
  • Students value technology in the classroom—more than 80 percent of respondents said they believe technology is helping their learning experience.

It’s clear that technology can help remove barriers to success in higher education. The findings underscore, however, that one size does not fit all when it comes to implementing tech in the classroom. Learning management systems and other education software should provide the functionality of time-saving, efficiency-fueling apps. But if designed for utility’s sake only, students who are not apt to use this type of technology on their own will be hard pressed to adopt it in a classroom setting.

There are two factors at play here: the familiarity and usability of things like email and social media and the functionality of more sophisticated tools that break down barriers to academic success. One without the other will leave some students in the dust—but when paired together, the walls that face many students as they reach higher ed start to come down.

Here are the Full Results of the Survey

College Students’ Biggest Barrier to Success is the Time it Takes to Complete Work
On average, 64 percent of students said that the time it takes to study and complete work is a major obstacle on the journey towards academic success—more than any other factor, including lack of understanding material, uninspiring teachers, access to tutors, and crowded classrooms.

Barriers to Academic Success are Exacerbated by Banning Technology from the Classroom 
More than half of professors (53 percent) are enacting some kind of technology ban in the classroom on a regular basis, including phones, laptops, tablets, or some combination. The survey shows that as technology is taken away, obstacles to success become more prevalent.

  • When technology is removed from the classroom, students are more likely to say that “the time it takes to study and complete work” is a major barrier to success. Compared to the average (64 percent):
    • 76 percent of students in classes with laptop bans see “time” as an obstacle
    • 77 percent of students in classes with tablet bans see “time” as an obstacle
  • Students without digital tools in class are also more likely to name lack of understanding as an obstacle. Compared to the average (19 percent):
    • 28 percent of students without access to laptops in class name “lack of understanding of material” as an obstacle

Females are Using Less Technology than Males and See More Barriers to Success
When looking more closely at who is experiencing certain obstacles, women are 20 percent more likely than men to say that time is a barrier to success in higher ed (59 percent of males compared to 70 percent of females). This may be because they are less likely to use time-saving, efficiency-fueling technology.

  • 71 percent of males said they use cloud productivity apps like Google Docs compared to 66 percent of females. Males also used project management apps and screen sharing apps more than females
  • Only 37 percent of females say they use cloud storage applications compared to 51 percent of males
  • The only digital tools that more females said they use than males are social media and email

Students Value Technology on Campus and Want More of It
Overwhelmingly, students believe technology is helping their learning experience. And they want more of it.

  • More than 80 percent of students are completing the majority of their coursework by digital means
  • 81 percent of students believe that technology is helping their learning
  • When asked if their tuition could be spent on any one improvement, students chose “better overall tech solutions” and “better wifi on campus” more than any other upgrade (including physical infrastructure, gym, and food).

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