The future of technology in Higher Education institutions
UNIGO, an online resource for college information in the USA, recently revealed that college students are more wired than ever before. According to findings, 98% of college students own a digital device with “a majority of undergraduates report owning more than 12 digital devices, including computers, laptops, printers, smart phones, webcams and digital cameras.”
While this data is not drawn from local soil, there is no reason to believe that these findings do not reflect, albeit in part, the statistics at tertiary institutions in South Africa.
We live in a time where immediate convenience is found at our fingertips. Conversations and developments happen on the double at the click of a button; and in a time where knowledge is more readily available than at any recorded time, educational facilities should not only take note – but embrace technological advancements aimed at achieving exactly this: convenience and extra time.
In education, time is a fundamental factor in achieving exceptional results through seamless execution and inevitably providing students with their fees worth. It occurs all too often that technology fails educators, wasting their prized time as well as that of their students. Technology is ever-cultivating and has transitioned teaching mediums from dreary chalk boards to expedient smart boards. It has also eliminated hours wasted on equipment set-up and repair by simply allowing an educator to walk into a personalised and automated lecture theatre.
Some higher Education institutions are waking to the fact that this is the future of learning and have opted to adopt these methods and technologies which ensure impeccable lectures and meetings, environmental sustainability and an efficient workforce. Tertiary institutions that have embraced this modern way of teaching are few and far between – and where archaic teaching methods reside, the student suffers.
The UNIGO study shows that students expect – and want – more technology on campus with “three out of four (who) don’t feel like their schools are using technology effectively enough”.
Campuses across South Africa should take note of this expressed need. It is that time of the year where tertiary institutions again begin their active campaign for a new group of undergraduates – a group of society which has been shown to be the more technologically advanced than any other previous generation. They are the i-Generation – and they demand effortless communication.
It is only natural to assume that tertiary institutions will opt to integrate technology into their classrooms as the latest systems are geared to saving students, facility managers and lecturers a considerable amount of time.
In addition, the advancement of technology also calls for the preservation of the environment. Efficient energy consumption is pivotal and a fundamental concern amongst the youth; tertiary institutions cannot preach sustainability and not put the practice to action.
Due to their excessive energy consumption and associated soaring costs, reducing the carbon footprint and saving energy should not be additional – but critical objectives – set by educational institutions.
It seems like a big ask, but the reality is that the integration of time, convenience and environmental integrity is as easy as installing an AV system which effectively meets these three needs. This technology is now readily available in South Africa – and, in the instance of Stellenbosch University – indications are that students are already reaping the rewards from the university’s forward thinking.
In South Africa education is a right. Shouldn’t students be allowed the best?
Derek Olivier, co-founder of 4ward-design