Villgeratter said she thinks OU professors generally make more effective use of technology than do faculty members at her home institution, Karl Franzens University in Graz. OU uses an online system called Desire2Learn to manage online class materials. Karl Franzens University doesn't use anything comparable to the system, she said.
According to the Educause study, Villgeratter isn't alone. Nearly 70 percent of respondents in 2012 said their instructors made effective use of technology, up from just 47 percent in 2010.
Although most students come to college with a solid understanding of how to use social technologies like text messaging, Twitter and Instagram, they generally still need guidance on how to use the same technology for academic purposes, said Susan Stansberry, a professor of educational technology at Oklahoma State University.
Education students are required to submit a portfolio of work to the state Department of Education. Most of those students are comfortable with the idea of creating an electronic portfolio, Stansberry said.
But faculty members still need to work with the students to explain why the portfolio is important and how they can use it later. Students may be comfortable with the process, she said, but faculty members work hard to make the process meaningful.
The use of technology doesn't supplant the need to teach skills like critical thinking and problem solving, Stansberry said — it just gives professors another set of tools to teach those skills. And in most cases, she said, students already have those tools in their pockets and bookbags.
“It is extremely important to me that we model effective teaching with technology,” Stansberry said. “If they've got it in their hands, let's use it.”