For those hoping that more access to technology will lead to better academic results, China could serve as a good example. Autumn Arnett and T.A. Cooper write in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education that China has moved far ahead of almost every country in the world on measures of integrating technology into academic curriculum, as well as the amount of time Chinese students spend using tech as part of their education.
Although surveys of U.S. students conclude that they’re satisfied with the role technology plays in their academic experience, Chinese students and educators – on the contrary – are seeking a greater level of integration. San Francisco University professor of information system Sameer Verma makes himself an exception in the American education establishment by calling for China-level uses of technology in the classroom.
“Integrating technology into curriculum is extremely important,” Verma says. “Do not be afraid to reach out to your students for help, because this is their era and ultimately will become their legacy.”
Dr. Michael Mills, assistant professor of teaching and learning at the University of Central Arkansas, agrees that technology will continue to play a vital role in education.
“Apart from the engagement aspect of using technology, students must master the digital literacy skills necessary to thrive in today’s society and workplace,” he says.
The survey results – published by Dell – find that the majority of educators and even parents in the country don’t share Verma’s and Mills’ views. On the contrary, many American parents believe that if their kids want to get their hands on more sophisticated digital toys, they’re more likely to do that at home rather than in school. The perception of Chinese parents is the exact opposite.
According to Dr. George Schuessler, director of academic computing at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, US schools lag when it comes to the latest and the greatest and – maybe because of budget limits or possibly because of a lack of adventurous spirit – are more likely to provide their students with last generation gadgets rather than top of the line tools.
While many in the U.S. concur that technology plays an essential role in education, most people believe that technology needs are not being met in schools today. Three-fourths of those surveyed in the U.S. believe there should be more technology in the classroom, compared to an overwhelming 95 percent in China.
Mills says this is because the United States has de-emphasized technology infrastructure spending in favor of meeting standardized testing benchmarks.
“We, unfortunately, have become a nation of short-term goals — pass this test, make this quarter’s profit goals … when we should be focused on what infrastructure should be built for long-term success,” he says. “Other nations, and China in some respects, see this need. South Korea is a model for this; their investment in per capita technology infrastructure should embarrass our nation’s leaders.”