If I had to guess as to how many readers could relate to the term “blue book examination,” I’m sure it would be a minority. So much has changed since the college days of yesteryear. In fact, the internet wasn’t officially public when I was studying Business Economics at South Dakota State University. I even recall writing my Junior Composition papers on the word processor my parents purchased for me. At the time, that was about a $600 item. I still have it sitting in the basement closet. I keep telling myself I’m going to bring it back to life when I’m ready to write that screen play. It would be a step up from the old fashioned typewriter and of course a step below today’s computers. It had special storage disks that I’m not even sure are readily available today. Regardless, it was clearly a much different “process” of learning even as few as a decade and a half ago.
By the time college students walk across the stage to receive their ticket to the real world, they will be near experts at putting every technological gadget to use. Whether texting to and from classes, taking notes on laptops, using their navigational system on Spring Break or organizing all their school data on flash drives, students are tuned into the digital world.
As students look to digital media as a major source of information, classrooms are also forced to evolve. You can’t expect to resonate with a student using antiquated processes and equipment. Most universities have moved to digital note taking entirely, either issuing or requiring that incoming freshmen be equipped with a laptop in place of a spiral bound notebook. Others are taking things a step further and using technology to enhance the recruitment campaign as well as campus and in class communication.
Tens of thousands of branded flash drives were manufactured last year alone in support of enhancing the overall university experience. Depending on the communication objective, institutions invested in everything from simple college logo usb drives to intelligently preloaded flash drives. The common denominator is that flash drives are affordably priced and offer a customizable environment to preload welcome and campus tour videos, course catalogs, university policy manuals, campus/city/regional maps, event calendars, and most any digital content the college desires assuming the storage capacity of the flash drive permits. In other words, if a college Enrollment Director wishes to preload a large video file or image heavy brochure, the ability to do so would be limited only by the storage capacity of the flash drive they are using to preload the data. The most common size thus far has been 1GB but schools are learning quickly that students have migrated to the 2GB and 4GB capacities in effort to store more personal data such as pictures and music which consumes much greater space than text based files.
Long gone are the blue books and number 2 pencils. In their place are smartly engineered college flash drives and other digital tools students, faculty and administration alike are using to enhance the overall education process. Of course there’s never a substitute for passionate teachers and committed students, but a strategic approach to leveraging today’s tools of choice is helping colleges remain engaging and students remain ready to excel in a brave new world.