Academic institutions have traditionally been slow to embrace technology and provide students with access to the latest digital tools. Meanwhile, college and university students have been quick to integrate digital devices, tools and apps into their daily lives. A new study released b yonline scheduling platform Doodle reveals the true extent of the digital divide in education and how it may put college and university students on a path to academic failure in these COVID-19 times.
According to Doodle’s “Time Management in Education” study, the vast majority (65 percent) of college and university students are digital natives, using between six and 15 digital tools and apps on a daily basis.
Following this, 32% of students say they prefer to use an online scheduling tool to book office hours with their professors. That’s a healthy percentage of students with the desire to automate the office hours setup process. But it’s not what’s currently available to them, with 66 percent of professors still clinging to outdated methods and using email or syllabus listings to coordinate their office hours.
These findings prove there is a big gap between the digital-first behaviors of students and the non-digital processes used by professors. As further proof of this, an overwhelming majority (83 percent) of students think that their professors should use technology more in their day-to-day work. While this digital divide has been evident for some time and before COVID-19 came along, it now has the potential to negatively affect students’ academic performance in a remote learning environment.
Renato Profico, CEO of Doodle, explains, “This is a great opportunity for academic institutions to change their processes and implement new technologies. It’s not about stripping away all existing processes and systems that have been in place for decades. Rather, it’s about making small, impactful changes. It’s also about implementing the right technology solutions to facilitate the kinds of change that will allow academic institutions to deliver the best experience possible to students, faculty members and administrative staff, while helping them to be highly productive, focused and successful in achieving their goals.”
The research study is based on a survey of 1,019 students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States. Key findings and trends include:
- Time management and student-faculty interaction outside the classroom unlock academic success. Budgeting time (28 percent) and meeting weekly/biweekly with professors for feedback (16 percent) are the top two strategies used by students to improve their academic performance. So, students are prioritizing time in their schedules to meet with their professors, with 26 percent meeting several times a week and 26 percent meeting at least once weekly.
- Remote learning: doomed for failure, a good thing, or somewhere in between? According to the study, 37 percent of students have found it harder to manage their time and stay productive since classes moved online. This is a serious issue, as a majority of students (66 percent) say time management is extremely important in regards to their ability to meet their academic goals. On top of this, 42 percent of students feel like they’re working more since their classes have gone virtual.
- Technology: a savior for higher education. Fifty five percent of students say technology makes learning more flexible and convenient. Meanwhile, 16 percent of students value how technology makes it easier to collaborate with classmates and 13 percent see it as being useful in increasing access to their professors and faculty members.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong support system. The good news is that 76 percent of students feel their professors and faculty provide the necessary support to help them manage their time and balance other commitments. However, that means nearly a quarter (24 percent) of US college students aren’t getting enough support. Another 23 percent would like to see increased one-to-one access to professors beyond office hours.
Profico concludes, “Time management is one of the biggest challenges and priorities for students, professors, faculty and administrators alike. This is where technology can be immensely helpful by cutting out administrative tasks like scheduling, as it allows educators to take back control of their time and focus their full attention on delivering an exceptional remote learning experience, supporting and empowering students to excel in their classes, enabling faculty and administrative staff to perform their jobs effectively and ensuring the institution runs smoothly.”