Technology in the classroom: Increased software transforms learning area

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Students in the Charton Family Lecture Theatre use their laptops for last-minute studing before a test on Wednesday. Students are turning toward technology and computer software to complete classes. (Robert Huskey / Daily Ttan)

Updated at 10:45 p.m. on March 10, 2013.

Professors continue to adopt high-tech devices and software into classrooms for the growing amount of students enrolled at Cal State Fullerton this spring semester.

With a staggering 34,168 registered students, technology is impacting the way professors teach and students learn.

Devices and software have become extra tools for professors and students to use in class, along with textbooks.

Software, such as Aplia and WileyPLUS, can quickly grade online homework and provide an explanation for a certain grade.

The iClicker and ResponseCard are devices that provide professors a better understanding of what most students comprehend by instantly showing the answers on a projector.

Michael Dickerson, Titan Shops bookstore manager, has seen an increase in instructors requesting access codes and clickers.

He said the iClicker is required in 39 courses this semester.

About 1,700 students are registered in those courses and 1,100 iClickers have been sold by the bookstore.

The iClicker allows students to be engaged in class, but also encourages them to show up to class since professors can use the device to record attendance, said Steve Ray, director of product management for the iClicker.

“Where we have been successful with our technology is in finding ways to take a classroom situation, which was working well, but to make it more engaging, and the iClicker has proven very successful in making that possible,” Ray said.

Professors are using software and devices to enhance the way students learn, especially in larger classes.

Political science professor Scott Spitzer teaches about 200 students in his political science class and found that the iClicker was a great way for many students to start up conversations about political issues. Every student who uses the iClicker in class receives credit towards their participation grade.

Spitzer was worried when he first started using the iClicker that students would not like the device or think it was “gimmicky.”

More students became more engaged by using the iClicker, Spitzer said.

With all of the newer technology being used in more classrooms, students are needing to spend extra money on software or a device, usually on top of purchasing a textbook.

The iClicker is sold new at the Titan bookstore for $43.99 or $32.99 used. The bookstore also rents the tech tool new at $19.95 and used at $14.95.

“(WileyPLUS) makes (homework) a lot easier, I just wish it didn’t cost so much,” said John Servatius, 20, a senior accounting major. He added that he spent about $250 on a bundle package including the software and textbook.

Spitzer understands the burden put on students to purchase something extra so he decided to have his class use a cheaper textbook and bundle package through the bookstore.

April Franklin, a business communication professor, encourages students to purchase the software and textbook bundles online. She uses Aplia, a course management system that acts as a digital textbook.

The program allows professors to create homework and monitor a student’s performance. Students can go online to complete assignments, review course information and check grades.

Aplia can be purchased online through CengageBrain.com and students can buy a softbound textbook for $5 more.

The software can cost students about $100 to $200 depending on the textbook it comes with and class it is being used in.

Many math and business professors incorporate Aplia software with their teaching. Aplia assists instructors by grading assignments instantly.

Franklin said Aplia allows students to interact more efficiently with the text.

“The software entices them,” said Franklin. “They can do it on their iPad, they can do it while they’re having their coffee.”

The ResponseCard is similar to the iClicker by enabling students to instantly respond to an instructor’s question.

Markell Bailey, 20, a junior business major, used the Response Card in his economic class for practice questions and quizzes.

Bailey said the ResponseCard is helpful because it allows students to see answers on the board and how the rest of the class answered the same question.

Students can become more engaged with devices, such as the iClicker and ResponseCard, but professors may end up lecturing less since most of the work is done through software.

“Professors aren’t able to perform a regular lecture during this day and age where everyone is online,” Spitzer said. “I feel sad that I have to do this kind of thing to sort of get students more engaged with the material.”

Despite students using newer technology in the classroom, many students deal with the frustrations of software glitches.

Servatius has used WileyPLUS, an online computer program, in many accounting classes for studying and homework assignments.

Although Servatius enjoys using WileyPLUS, students from other schools have expressed how displeased they are with the program by creating a “I Hate WileyPLUS” website and Facebook page.

Students commented on how WileyPLUS graded assignments wrong and went offline frequently, making it harder to submit homework.

“I really didn’t like (WileyPLUS) at first but they made a few changes here and there,” said Servatius. “I just really enjoy using it now.”

Technology will continue to impact classrooms since more professors are requiring students to use software and devices in class.

Technology is not only increasing in college classrooms, but also in elementary and high schools.

Younger students are becoming accustomed to using technological devices in the classroom, which may benefit them in the future as they continue through different levels of schooling.

Many classrooms in the Fullerton School District use an iPad and Apple TV with a projector so teachers can show lessons on the screen while walking around the class, said Karen Green, program specialist of technology and media services for Fullerton School District.

“This helps with classroom management and allows the teacher to pass the iPad to a student to complete problems and display to the class,” Green said.

Students can express themselves instantly with technology, while professors are using the internet and programs to work more efficiently with students and help keep them focused.

People have become conditioned nowadays to wanting feedback or a way to interact, Spitzer said.

Technology is increasingly present on campus, but the classrooms where students learn may remain the same.

“I feel students need to learn in the classroom,” Bailey said. “We need that physical presence to keep us actively engaged.”

About Kristen Cervantes

Krissy is finally graduating this semester from Cal State Fullerton. She is majoring in communications/print journalism and is excited to be an editor for the first time after spending two semesters on the Daily Titan staff. When she's not at home chasing her 20-month-old daughter around, she enjoys shopping and going to Disneyland with her husband and family. After graduation, she hopes to land a job with a magazine or newspaper and eventually have a successful career as an editor and columnist.