What Do Students Want? (related to Technology)

According to a recent article in Campus Technology, Carol Smith, CIO at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, gained her insight into student needs through the indirect approach of observing needs that students don’t always overtly express.

Here’s what she found that students want:

  • Event calendaring – an easier way for them to manage their schedules in order to prevent scheduling conflicts
  • Collaboration support – a way to allow students to work on and share documents with each other and to make sure faculty members are more aware of what collaboration tools can be used in the classroom, and encourage students to use these tools.

Wayne Brown, VP for IT at Excelsior College (online) cautions that “while student expectations may have an impact on prioritization of technology projects, those expectations can’t drive decision-making for IT leaders.”

It is, of course, a challenge is to keep up with student needs, especially when technology keeps changing. To make sure IT keeps up, Case Western has put together an emerging technology group.

Lev Gonick ,VP for IT services and CIO at Case Western Reserve University (OH) suggests two areas for IT leaders to watch:

  • “YouTube meets the classroom” – using video to allow students to create more personalized learning
  • Helping to organize “the tsunami of educational resources available to students.”

So what do law students want? 

Multitasking law student

Informal surveys and discussions have revealed that our law students want  much of  what is mentioned in the Campus Technology article.

Both of  the course management systems (Lexis Blackboard and Westlaw Twen) used by law schools are looking at updating  their calendaring functionality and collaboration tools.  Blackboard already has discussion boards and the ability to sync directly to Facebook.  TWEN offers discussion forums and wikis as well as a master calendar.  Its document pages have RSS feeds. (See these posts written by a 3L Albany Law student – 2010 Guide to Technology: Basic RSS ,  2010 Guide to Technology: Advanced RSS )

Students have been making digital videos to improve their lawyering skills. CALI offers interactive exercises related to law school content.  Lexis & Wedtlaw are the databases used by law students for legal research.

However, in order to enhance the educational experience of law students, these technology tools must be used by faculty and they must be used effectively.


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