Advice for the College-Bound: Don’t Shop for Tech Blind

Preparing a child for a college class used to be no more involved than preparing them for secondary school. But with technology playing a bigger role in college than it has in the past, parents and their college-bound kids find themselves adrift amid the myriad of digital choices.

Money is more limited than ever, so the stakes of making a wrong choice in hardware or software are even higher this year than the last. Especially considering that a smart investment decision can translate into up to one letter grade improvement in student’s performance in a course.

“From viewing lectures online and getting help from a digital tutor to using one of more than 20,000 education-specific apps now available, today’s college students have many options when it comes to technology,” says Brian Kibby, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education. “Finding the right tools can enhance the learning experience and improve student performance in class – sometimes by a full letter grade or more. These tools have great potential to help students master course material and prepare them for success not only in the classroom, but after graduation.”

To help students and their parents cope, Brian Kibby of McGraw-Hill Higher Education provides a list of tips to make technology choices easier.

The best way to not get bamboozled by too many choices, says Kibby, is to seek advice from someone who’s been there. Poll friends and neighbors with kids in college and ask them how they filled their children’s technology needs; also, ask them if in retrospect there was anything they wish they’d done differently. It’s also worthwhile to ask some students who are already attending the same college, and preferably the same major, and let them explain the challenges they’ve encountered and how technology could be used to overcome them. A lot of the time, they’ll have insight into the college life that isn’t available to someone who’s never been there before.

Kibby also recommends that you spend time with a piece of equipment or the application before committing to it fully. It should be instinctive or easy to learn, and trying it should make it clear if it fits its purpose. Many students are using the occasion of going to college as an excuse to splurge on trendy gadget like the iPad, and then find themselves frustrated because they find it uncomfortable to use for the every-day tasks like taking notes or sending email.

Once you’re on campus, don’t be afraid to ask professors for insights about which technologies will help you the most. Many college professors today use a technology called lecture capture that enables professors to record lectures and make them available for replay after class. Most colleges and millions of college students use digital course hubs that house everything from the course syllabus and e-book to interactive, adaptive quizzes all in one location.

08 22, 2012
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