Going Google: Students respond to technology on campus
By JERRICE DONELSON, Staff Writer
Campus technology has quickly become a huge topic as the news of University of Michigan-Dearborn Going Google in March is buzzing among students. According to ITS, Google’s core applications such as: Google Mail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive will be implemented, transitioning out Zimbra. However, the buzz, mostly positive, has some students questioning why isn’t there more up-to-date technology available on campus? Since technology was created to make life simpler, shouldn’t technology in the learning environment also offer a helping hand in the life of students? These questions lead into a discussion about current technology on campus (or lack of) that is currently available.
When asked about the technology on campus, many students have a pseudo-positive response as it is believed that what’s available is the best that can be offered. “I think technology is inclusive and an equalizer, but you have to know that it exists,” said Kristina Le Flore, a senior in the School of Education majoring in earth science. One of her suggestions was for a more user-friendly “help-index” to include what technology is available on campus and its best uses. She also believes new students should be offered a free hands-on workshop that instructs students on campus technology and best practices on how to use it as it is an unfair implication that every student is in fact tech savvy.
Students trying to become familiar with practical uses of technology on campus isn’t the only concern as the technology discussion becomes more in depth with the idea that Google will help unify the campus’ tech capabilities. But, how will this integration translate into the classroom? When asked about technology being used by professors on campus some students question why more technology isn’t being used in the classrooms. “Lectures can be enhanced by using newer technology,” says Le Flore who also suggested using University of Michigan Open CourseWare as an in-class learning tool. Technology being used in the classroom doesn’t seem to be an issue for senior ITM and digital marketing major Kristina Hunter who believes the technology used by her College of Business professors in the classroom is actually up-to-date. But, when asked if there was a gap between the technology available in her classes and the campus technology available for students, her response included an item hopeful for the Google integration. “The lack of cohesiveness in the technology that students use such as CTools, Blackboard, and email can be frustrating,” says Hunter. Senior finance major Grant Grey also mentioned this same frustration with the lack of cohesive technology between the classroom and the student, specifically, communicating with professors. “Having an easier interface available from student- to-professors like an in-university communication IM system would be an awesome benefit,” said Grey who suggested the use of SmartDesks, SmartBoards and questioned the lack of instructor use of Skype or video conferencing so students wouldn’t miss lectures.
Student survival tech items such as more eBook texts, Air Print, more reliable Wi-Fi and MCard accessed copy machines were among the top most desired technology that made these students wish-lists when asked what technology would like to be seen on campus. And, while some students feel the technology available on campus even with Google coming fits the phrase it is what it is, some students like junior
CIS major Zack Bruck and supply chain and IT senior Mo Ali have a better idea by bringing their own technology to campus. “I don’t worry about what’s not available on campus, because I have everything I need on my laptop,” said Bruck who is outfitted with a netbook and laptop he uses daily on campus. “I’m not bothered by anything but I would like to see faster Wi-Fi,” said Ali who uses a MacBook instead of the computer lab desktops as he complains of the log in speed during peak lab hours.
Overall, the idea of having more innovative technology on campus for students is met with open-arms but not without its trepidation and question of more. Upgrades such as MBox, UPrint and now Google are all a nice step in the right direction. But a residual question remains, will these innovations make student life and response to technology on campus better or will having up-to-date technology available on campus only remain a topic of discussion? Hopefully the response will move as fast as technology itself.