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Transforming Digital Information Sharing and Collaboration in Higher Education

Transforming Digital Information Sharing and Collaboration in Higher Education

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Scholars at all levels have benefited from the insights and intuitive leaps that come when they work with others. Scientific journals and libraries are just two examples of the fruits of these types of partnerships that have brought about advances in learning throughout the ages. Recently, advanced technology has further revolutionized almost every aspect of the modern secondary and post-secondary learning experience. Thanks to open-source software and commonly available educational resources, faculty and students alike are benefiting in numerous ways.

Learning Management System Solutions

Today’s Learning Management Systems (LMS) are web-based solutions that enable students and faculty to share and collaborate on information of all types; either when they are physically together in the same room or from locations around the globe. Once given the proper authorization credentials, pupils and teachers have 24/7 access to all of the resources contained in the Learning Management System. The system also provides other enhancements, which includes recording all sessions and allowing the administrator/teacher to track individual student progress. Considering these assets, it is no wonder that LMS solutions are being embraced by not only corporations and other businesses, but also educational institutions eager to further their reach and effectiveness.

Despite the many complex features offered by LMS solutions, most faculty have been slow to incorporate them into their daily routines. The majority of staff members who choose to limit the reach of their LMS by only using it to disseminate necessary class information are not taking advantage of the full capabilities of the LMS.

The Role of The Internet & Smartphones in Education

In addition to the robust suite of software that drives the LMS, educators need to  keep in mind the tools that students literally hold in their own hands when entering the physical or virtual classroom. Even the lowest-end smartphone can provide a person with access to the infinite information contained online. Instead of being intimidated by the sheer magnitude of this body of knowledge, today’s cutting-edge educator is given the privilege of teaching the essential skill of critical reasoning that can be used to filter, sort through, and refine this data into new and innovative forms. If almost one-third of today’s tech-savvy students are not given the opportunity to use their own equipment in this pursuit and only a quarter are encouraged to harness the power of their smartphones, their entire learning experience could suffer.

The internet has become much more than an entertainment medium. With just a click, students can peruse a world-renown text, consult a direct manufacturer, or collaborate with peers. Instead of answers taking hours or days to be found, they appear almost instantaneously. It is no wonder that pupils are now spending a majority of their daily screen time on the thing that matters most to them: getting their homework done.

Incorporating a LMS into Higher Education

Like students, colleges and universities have firm priorities. However, many do not seem to place their own operating efficiency at the top of their to-do lists. As a result, they are falling behind the technology curve and failing to grasp the benefits that LMS solutions offer. When less than 28% of an educational institution’s crucial faculty members do not have access to these systems (and are not trained in their use), everyone involved feels the effects. The bottom line is a loss of productivity, loss of efficiency for the teacher, loss of the ability to learn effectively for the student, and a loss of enhanced credentials and peer reviews for the university.

There are also over 10% of faculty members who, while having the benefits of LMS solutions at their fingertips, choose not to utilize them. Most likely, intimidation and a reluctance to change comfortable methodologies are the two main factors contributing to this obstinate failure to adapt with the times. However, the train of collaborative education and information sharing has already left the station, and those who do not jump on may find themselves quickly behind.

Students are not immune to the charms of this new learning style. In fact, the majority adamantly want their instructors to take advantage of the innovative learning tools. These include dynamic, web-based supplemental content that makes the learning experience more direct and personal, and lecture capture capabilities that enable an instructor to record presentations and provide ongoing access to the accompanying visual aids long after the actual class session has ended. Considering that the ongoing mission of any good instructor is to keep their students fully engaged and actively learning, it only makes sense to utilize these powerful technological tools to attract and retain scholars/ interest. The fact that 78% of them find that these innovations are invaluable in enabling them to complete their work successfully is a further testament to why they are gaining popularity so quickly in today’s educational milieu.

Blending The Classroom Experience with Technology

That being said, the real power of online interactions comes when an institution can blend them with a traditional classroom experience. 82% of students find that they learn best when the advantages of the internet are combined with good, old-fashioned interaction with an instructor. Even though pupils might have a smartphone in one hand and a mouse in the other, they still value the one-on-one discourse and feedback that can only be found in the traditional learning environment.

Of course, the internet is only as good as the quality of the tools used to access it. Fortunately 68% of colleges and universities seem to have gotten at least part of this equation right. Students, for the most part, find logging into campus WiFi to be reliable. However, the same cannot be said about the actual WiFi performance. In order for seamless learning to take place, this lapse of infrastructure must be addressed by IT specialists, either third-party or within the educational institutions themselves.

Using Collaborative Technology Tools  in Learning

Without a doubt, teachers are becoming aware of the importance of incorporating technology into their methodologies. Well over half of them openly encourage students to use collaborative tools to enhance their understanding of concepts. 61%, a slightly higher number, are practicing what they preach by also bringing technology into their own lectures and presentations. As a result, the materials they cover in class can be enriched with audio and visual enhancements, which can deliver a much more engaging lecture. 

Now that both faculty and students are, to varying degrees, coming to see the importance of LMS in their academic lives, the results are beginning to show: 40% of young people point to their LMS as being a positive force in improving their ability to collaborate and study with their peers. Also, over half of the teachers have concluded that their LMS is providing a valuable interface between themselves and their students.

SmartRoom for Education

SmartRoom is a content management platform for education that allows administration, faculty, and students to securely share and collaborate on research, course work, and other institutional information. Built with all members of the educational community in mind, SmartRoom doesn’t compromise between security and usability. Every feature has been thoughtfully designed to simplify and accelerate knowledge sharing, while ensuring information remains in the institution’s control.  Click here for more information.

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