Academia is facing a tough transition from students learning primarily in the classroom to more faculty, staff and students engaging through online means. Making this time as valuable as possible to stakeholders means having an IT service management setup that can quickly resolve issues and make sure users are getting access to what they need, when they need it. The importance of ITSM investments in higher education is highlighted by a recent Intel Canada study that found that students spend one-third of their educational time online and do so using mobile devices.
According to the study, there are still significant questions about increased mobile device use in educational settings, but early evidence is leaving both teachers and students feeling like the technology improves key factors like engagement and collaboration. This is especially true as many educational institutions are facing larger class sizes and similar problems that can get in the way of traditional teaching methods.
Technology in Educational Settings
The study, which focused on post-secondary students but holds universal messages about how people are learning, found that students are not alone in embracing technologies. Teachers are increasingly putting audio and video recordings of lectures and other materials online, making education more accessible and giving students opportunities to engage in more ways. At this point, technology is widely embraced by teachers who are less than 10 years out of school.
Students are using online technologies for just about everything, ranging from research to collaboration and just getting homework done on an everyday basis. Online methods of learning have become so dominant that more than half of all homework is done online and 78 percent of all research is performed via online channels.
Thierry Karsenti, Canada research chair on information technology and communications in education for Intel Canada explained that many students are using the Web more than they realize as most multi-task and will be depending on Web-based services while performing tasks that aren't inherently tied to being online. On the whole, academia is moving into a situation in which students are finding ways to fine-tune their classroom into an online experience that works for them.
"In my work and research I see a trend towards building your own classroom - the inclination of students, powered by the right technology, to control when, how and where they learn," said Karsenti. "The goal with technology is to teach students how to use their devices to learn rather than socialize - replacing a potential distraction with a powerful and unmatched education tool."
Making Sure Technology Doesn't Become a Problem
Increased dependence on online learning could play a huge role in empowering students to invest more in their own education. However, making learners more dependent on technology means that any technical problems become even more disruptive to the educational process. University service desk teams need to be positioned to resolve issues quickly and efficiently to ensure student concerns are dealt with before those problems get in the way of learning.
The importance of a responsive IT service desk in academia is highlighted by increased mobile device use in higher education. With so many students using smartphones and tablets, IT teams need to be ready to support applications running on a more diverse array of hardware and operating system configurations. This can lead to an increased volume of incidents, but it also makes release management more challenging and adds complexity to change tasks. The end result is an environment in which academic institutions can't get by with a bare-bones technology package focused on supporting the network - they need a fully featured ITSM suite to meet the needs of online teachers and students.