How is Technology Influencing Education?

By Sandra Warner, Deputy CIO / Director Administrative Computing Services, Johnson County Community College

Sandra Warner, Deputy CIO / Director Administrative Computing Services, Johnson County Community College

Learning, innovation, and technology naturally go hand in hand. Educational business units have worked with IT over the course of decades to evolve their use of technology. First, leveraging technology to automate repeat work and more recently to capture utilization patterns (and the data needed) to transform the student experience. Learning Management Systems (LMS) continue to change the way many students interact with faculty and access their education, transforming an age-old tradition. Meanwhile, IT has been working behind the scenes to virtualize and migrate technology infrastructure and related platforms to the cloud.

As active learning classrooms leverage Education Technology to engage students, we see facilities added to the list of areas embracing technology as part of a change effort. At Johnson County Community College a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan effort establishes learning “zones”, includes two new buildings, as well as the following set of renovations:

• An enhanced “campus front door,” which includes a refacing of the Student Center, upgrades to the athletic facilities, and regrading of surrounding roads and parking

• Consolidation of five JCCC academic resource centers to the first floor of Billington Library for better student access

• Renovation and expansion of the current Arts and Technology Building (ATB) and Welding Laboratory Building (WLB) to further strengthen industrial technology offerings such as construction management and welding

• Construction of an athletic complex for use by JCCC athletes and the community

• Conversion of spaces throughout campus into active learning classrooms

This major undertaking has brought to the forefront some of the ways recent technology developments and transformations in the Education Tech arena are impacting our business environment. For example, the new structures themselves require a resilient fiber plant and network infrastructure to not only bring classrooms online, but also IoT devices such as: lights, HVAC, door access, cameras, PA system, and fire alarm panels.

As more of these building infrastructure technologies have made their way onto the campus network, the close-knit collaboration and communication that has existed for years with areas using the Student Information System (SIS) is now needed for the facilities to function properly. The data the building infrastructure technologies produce is becoming increasingly more valuable. No longer can IT and facilities areas operate independently without an impact on the other–and our students. Defined, documented, and shared building and technology standards are more critical than ever to produce the desired outcome of engaged students and faculty. Complete wireless coverage is needed and must be maintained to support all the latest devices.

So, how are these technologies influencing Education Technology and student learning? We have all likely had the experience of walking into a modern facility that touts having the latest and greatest learning or technology experience then looked over to see an outdated phone or lights that don’t even know you entered the room. Interactive learning is not confined to the classroom, it starts the moment you engage online or step foot onto our campus to enroll. Today, you can take a virtual tour of JCCC’s campus from your home. Each of these technologies are designed to provide you a personalized experience so when you walk away, you can pick right back up where you left off. We are working to extend that personalized experience across campus by raising awareness of the service “centers” available to you by your location as well as way finding to help ease navigation.

Active Learning classrooms and online environments benefit greatly from the building infrastructure and student support technologies being brought to the forefront and maintained in a proactive fashion. John O’Brien’s recent EDUCAUSE review article stated, “technology offers perhaps the brightest hopes for moving some of the hardest-to-move needles in higher education, including student engagement and (timely) success”, ranking this issue the past two years second only to technology security.

Figure 1. How Technology Helps Students Learn

Source:”Student Study 2016” [infographic], EDUCAUSE

These fundamental uses of technology in the learning process provide us a path for leveraging these same platforms to invite innovation. Our ability to collaborate as a campus community to break down silos and get closer to our mission by better understanding the requirements of one another is the transformation needed to model a consumer experience our students enjoy off campus.

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