Most Effective Use of Technology
Good student experiences with technology are all alike. When we asked students about the most effective uses of technology that they experienced in their courses during the fall 2020 term, some common themes emerged (figure 4). Perhaps the most frequently cited technology critical to the student experience during the pandemic was the learning management system (LMS). Students reported that their instructors were using the LMS for much more than just posting the syllabus; instructors were posting assignments, notes, slides, and lectures; distributing course materials; conducting peer-review/peer-grading activities; administering exams, quizzes, or tests; and creating spaces for student–student interaction and collaboration. The pandemic appears to have been a catalyst for finally getting instructors to use the LMS for more than just the basic functions. Videoconferencing tools (e.g., Zoom, BlueJeans, GoogleMeet) were also prominent technologies students reported their instructors using effectively for lectures, breakout sessions, small-group work, office hours, and screen sharing and for providing social contexts in the absence of face-to-face opportunities. A large number of students discussed how remote access to specialized software (e.g., GIS, SPSS, CAD) really made a difference in their learning experiences. But the hands-down favorite technology used was the recorded lecture. Regardless of modality, students sang the praises and benefits of the recorded lecture for the flexibility of scheduling that it offered (especially under pandemic conditions) and the ability to review lecture materials whenever, wherever, and for however long they might need. And, as we have seen before, recorded lectures are critical to providing students with disabilities online access to needed materials and resources.