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University 2.0 – Improving the College Student User Experience

College studentsWhy do textbooks still exist?

Mid-September means everyone is back at school already.  And that got me thinking about a few things. Remember the fuss a couple of years ago when Georgia College gave all their incoming students an iPod? It was one of those big stories that captured the public imagination since it illustrated just how dramatically the learning experience was about to be changed by technology. Flash forward to the present and we haven’t progressed as far as we might like. But the tools are certainly out there to do so.

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College studentsWhy do textbooks still exist?

Mid-September means everyone is back at school already.  And that got me thinking about a few things. Remember the fuss a couple of years ago when Georgia College gave all their incoming students an iPod? It was one of those big stories that captured the public imagination since it illustrated just how dramatically the learning experience was about to be changed by technology. Flash forward to the present and we haven’t progressed as far as we might like. But the tools are certainly out there to do so.

If I were sending a young kid off to college these days, I wouldn’t just buy him a laptop. I would have a full gadget shopping list that would include:

A KINDLE OR SIMILAR E-BOOK READER – I could probably get away with a similar device like a netbook or even an iPhone but I like the Kindle’s easy purchase options for content and the note taking ability most of these devices offer. I also like having a dedicated reader so that the user wouldn’t be toggling back and forth between windows. It also helps not to have the distractions of e-mails and IMs when some serious studying is required. Of course, I would have to make sure that all the textbooks my kid needed were available in e-book format (and if not, why not?). And I would have to contain my jealousy regarding the fact that my kid could get all the textbooks he needed for a fraction of the price I paid when I was in school (and not break his back carrying them around either).

A FLIP, iPOD NANO OR SIMILAR MINI VIDEO CAMERA – Ideally, schools should be offering video podcasts of every lecture on campus (although there is the risk that kids may never go to class if this available). But if they don’t, then the college students of today shouldn’t be burdened with the excessive note taking of their predecessors. they should be able to set up their cameras, sit back , and focus on the content of their professor’s lectures.

AN iPOD TOUCH – Which I would load up with all sorts of study guides and other useful applications (like this list of apps from Mashable). Of course, I would add in a bunch of local city or town applications and in the ideal scenario, the computer lab at my kid’s university would have created a bunch of college specific applications (including campus maps, course calendars, and other important info) as well.

Ultimately, all of this would be serviced by a wireless internet network that was available throughout campus at no charge to my aspiring academic. After all, in this day and age there’s no reason for college students to not have access to all the information they need, cheaply and easily.

And, of course, college is just the training ground for much of the experiences we have in our work life. Wouldn’t it be great if you joined a company that gave you many of these same tools as well?

What are you technologies are you using to empower and educate your employees? Are there bulky manuals or long orientation sessions that could be replaced with digital tools? How are you fostering a culture of constant learning within your organization?

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