As you adopt technology tools into your courses, you will need to consider students’ previous experience
with technology, their expectations and access to technology, and the variety of learning styles they bring
to your course.
Despite encouraging statistics about students’ comfort with technology
(http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/frss/publications/2004011/2.asp#one), there are still segments of the
population that may be far less familiar with technology. While the digital divide has narrowed over the
past several years as Internet connectivity and home ownership of computers have increased, there are
still disparities in who has Internet and broadband access and the use of specific technologies. For
example, recent reports indicate that households earning higher incomes ($75,000+) use the Internet at
much greater rates than lower income households, have higher levels of computer ownership, and are
much more likely to use the Internet multiple times each day for a variety of tasks (Jansen,
2010). Similarly, individuals living with disabilities use the Internet at much lower rates than those who do
not report disabilities (Fox, 2011).
Thus, it is important not to assume that all students have had the same exposure and access to the
technology you plan to use in class. Instead, you can conduct a brief survey at the beginning of the
semester to find out where your students stand. Even students who come from households where
technology was present might not have spent much time with it and might not be familiar with the
applications you expect them to use. For example, a large number of students on college campuses know
how to use iTunes and have MP3 players or iPods, but they may not necessarily know how to create a
podcast. When you ask students to do a podcast project, a brief orientation to the technology, as well as
some tasks that would allow them to learn the technology, will help all students succeed in completing the
project and accomplishing course-specific goals. It is also important for you to tell them about the
resources available and where they can go for help with technology questions. Finally, you can seekout
the office on your campus that supports students with disabilities to learn more about services they offer
so that you can be proactive (in your syllabus and in introducing the technology) about discussing
accommodations for disabled students.
Beyond addressing differences among students, you will need to consider how technology alters the roles
students need to take on in your classes. When you use technology in teaching, students may be
required to assume new responsibilities, such as monitoring their own learning goals, setting priorities,
and controlling the pace of learning.