If you looked into a college classroom 50 years ago, you would be shocked.
Despite the leaps and bounds that technology has taken since 1964, the actual physical structure of most college campuses is still very similar today. Although some newer state-of-the-art additions have been made, the majority of schools are still very much intact. Fortunately, though, college professors are reshaping college education by bringing innovations of their own into the classroom like online textbooks and digital course materials.
1. Supervising students completion of reading assignments
Professors at several universities are able to precisely monitor the reading and note taking behaviors of their students. By studying their students “behavior index”, professors are gaining new insight into why particular students perform better than others.
These statistics have been huge eye openers for college professors like Texas A&M management professor Adrian Guardia. After tracking 70% of his students in 3 classes, he was able to discover a significant correlation between those who performed well on tests with their frequency of time spent studying assigned textbooks.
2. Removing the ‘front’ of the classroom
Since the beginning of formal instruction, classrooms have been arranged so that a teacher can lecture from the front of the room. Ron Briggs of Arizona State University is taking a very different approach to classroom instruction.
His classroom features round tables and no stage from which he can talk. Instead, he works his way around the classroom, facilitating the subject matter while mentoring the students as they learn.
Whiteboards and the classroom projector are mobile so that students can gain unobstructed access to all classroom materials. This has created a classroom environment where not only is he teaching the class, but so are the students. As a result of this classroom innovation, overall retention has increased by 5 percent and grades have been improved by about 4 percent.
3. Having students ask questions in class without raising their hands — or speaking at all
We are all aware about the fact that many students will refrain from raising their hand to ask a question for fear of judgment. Dr. David McDonald of Georgia State University is reshaping how students can ask questions during class, making it easy for anyone to ask a question, no matter how shy they are.
He has developed a Text Questioning System, which allows students to submit questions anonymously via text message. This question is displayed prominently for discussion during the class. According to Dr. McDonald, this has fostered more classroom productivity.
Dr. Monica Rankin of the University of Texas-Dallas has implemented a similar system with Twitter.
4. Preparing students for the modern job market
For generations, the college classroom has been all about preparing students to gain and hold onto a single well-paying job. The modern job market is not built for this; instead, people are much more likely to change jobs every few years. Those who would prefer to work at a single company for decades find themselves in a perilous position, as corporate jobs have become tenuous, at best. This trend is expected to become more extreme as time passes.
Professors at the Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College are helping students prepare for a transient work life by teaching students how to manage a lifestyle that involves sequential jobs and temporary work with a course named “The Gig Economy and the New Entrepreneurial Imperative.”
5. Treating politics as they exist in business
As you know, politics are heavily influential in business – and vice versa. Many colleges, however, persist in treating business as if it exists in a vacuum.
Professors at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University have created a course called “Business, Government and the Global Economy” that teaches students just how politics and business interact.
These are just a few examples of how college professors are thinking outside the box and encouraging their students to do so also. Sure life may have been more simple 50 years ago, but education will always be in the forefront of modern innovation.