While it is clear that McGraw-Hill Education is not a neutral player (as a leading publisher and advocate of digital learning solutions), but nonetheless, the headline results from their survey of over 3000 US College students are eye-catching.
Amongst their student respondents, it is clear that there is at least a perception that digital offers an enhancement of their learning opportunities. Their data seems to match with at least one aspect of my subjective, in-the-classroom experience. Students claim to want digital. They are clear and mostly univocal about this claim.
But I would add a couple of my experiences to temper our enthusiasm. Firstly, they are often as clear regarding what this would actually look like, but often really don’t mean the VLE/LMS that is offered. Digital sounds exciting. They have been using a VLE/LMS for years – although often educators have used it with them as a mere repository. So perhaps they mean something that overspills the LMS, or at least brings it alive in new ways for them. Secondly, when I have pushed students on what they would actually use (rather than say they want) their response has reacquired its univocal character – it his to be mobile. If you can’t do it on a smartphone – you will lose a portion of the class right there. We might or might not bemoan this – but my (resigned and world-weary?) response is that it is what it is. Mobile seems like a tide you can’t turn at the moment.
None of this dampens my enthusiasm, but it does leave me thinking that before I develop anything for my classes, I need to probably spend some time with the people in them first, and see how global trends might find expression in my actual, local, human, students.