Tag Archives: technology

Workers Highly Value E-Mail, Pew Reports


March_shutterstock_127894817Despite annoying spam, splashy corporate hacks, and constant online distractions from social media, e-mail continues to play a major role in the day-to-day life of American workers.

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that e-mail is especially important to executives, professionals, business owners, and clerical workers. They consider e-mail to be the main communication channel critical to their jobs, a finding unchanged since e-mail emerged a generation ago. In fact, the study calls e-mail workers’ most important digital tool.

The study, which sought to determine the impact of technology on American workers, found that over half of jobholders also highly value the Internet. These workers can be found in diverse situations: large enterprises and small proprietorships, urban and rural locations, and high-tech as well as non-technical industries.

Interestingly, the report found that those surveyed favored landline phones over cell phones, although in smaller numbers. Only 24 percent considered their smartphones “very important” to doing their jobs, while 35 percent say landlines are “very important” to their work.

The survey also disclosed that social networking is largely irrelevant to a majority of workers. Only four percent said social networking is important to their work.

Technology—specifically e-mail, the Internet, and cell phones—has had a profound effect on Americans’ work experiences. Over half of those surveyed claim these tools have expanded communication, improved job flexibility, but also increased the amount of time they spend working. Thirty-five percent told researchers that they spend more time working as a result of cell phones and the Internet.

Contrary to popular thought, the majority of workers do not think using the Internet has decreased their productivity. Only seven percent claim the Internet has made them less productive, while 46 percent say it has made them more productive.

An equal number say the Internet has not affected their productivity at all.

This finding flies in the face of many pundits claiming that digital tools are a distraction in the workplace.


Were you surprised to learn that e-mail still plays such an important role in the workplace? Post your comments!

Can Technology Fix the Lecture?

shutterstock_160647422A professor stands in the front of the class and delivers a lecture. Students may jot down notes—they may not. A discussion may occur—it may not. Questions may be asked—they may not. Students take exams, write papers, complete class evaluations, and receive grades. We hope they learn.

While this model of the college lecture may not be going the way of the dodo quite yet, even major research institutions—historically more concerned with obtaining grants than teaching undergraduates—are starting to get on the accountability bandwagon. As pressure grows for universities to show that their graduates walk away from college with more than a parchment and debt, more administrators and instructors are looking to data to improve student learning.

The lecture’s critics claim the teaching model is nothing more than a cheap way for colleges to deliver information to large numbers of students, a curse to researchers duty-bound to teach and a chore to withstand for fidgety undergraduates. It is no wonder that as the price tag for an undergraduate education rises, so does attention to quantifiable results, and one of the first practices being examined is the lecture.

To address the issue, some campuses use clickers to gauge student comprehension during lectures. Via remote control, the devices allow professors to test understanding by posting responses to questions instantly. However, more sophisticated ways to garner data are being developed.

The University of Michigan uses LectureTools, a program that allows students to follow lecture slides on their own devices as it collects data that measure their reactions to the lecture. Students can take notes right on the lecture slides, respond to questions, and ask questions in real time. The application’s inventor, Prof. Perry Samson of the University of Michigan, designed the tool so that instructors could use actual data to gauge the effectiveness of their teaching. As a professor pulled between research and teaching, he understands his colleagues’ reticence in adopting new technology, so he designed the tool to mesh with individual teaching styles.

Instituting large-scale changes to such an entrenched model of learning as the lecture will not be easy. Ordering professors to change doesn’t work, says Martha E. Pollack, a provost at the University of Michigan. To sweeten the pot, some universities offer grants in hopes that framing new learning approaches as research opportunities will appeal to professors. The goal is not to proscribe one way of teaching but to excite professors about innovation, she says.


What are your thoughts about lecturing? Share your experiences with us!


Source: Kolowich, S. (2014, August 11). Can universities use data to fix what ails the lecture? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Can-Colleges-Use-Data-to-Fix/148307/