After conducting a survey on academic barriers students face in college, Jeremy Friedman found that female students are using technology less than male students.
He says female students were 20 percent more likely than male students to say that time is a barrier to achieving success in higher education, and were less likely to use time-saving technology to complete their work.
However, he predicts that the technology usage in female students will increase as time goes on.
“I think what we will find is that over time, that’s going to be constant, and should become closer,” says Friedman, CEO and cofounder of Schoology. “It’s not that they’re using broadly every technology less, it’s that in certain areas, they were using technology a little bit less. For instance, in project management applications or in cloud storage, males were dominating usage of those, whereas it was pretty universal across the board with social media, which was almost 50/50, email, etc.”
Lack of encouragement at the university level is attributing to this gap, and is building more barriers in the classroom, Friedman says.
However, “the future is going to involve technology heavily,” he says. “There’s a major emphasis always on retention risk. If we can find people and catch them early enough before they have some gap in learning, then we can reengage them, we can help them learn better and do it in real time. Everyone is trying to find technology to do that, and that’s something that’s core.”
One remedy to this problem is by injecting more opportunities for students to collaborate with each other, and with instructors.
Collaboration will also give institutions the ability to reengage struggling students with digital assets and gather data on students’ learning strengths and weaknesses.
“As we go there, you’re seeing less of a divergence between male [students] and female [students],” Friedman says.
Plus, and most importantly, Friedman says college students want technology on campus and as a supplement to their learning, regardless of gender.
“Students are actually valuing technology on campus, and they want it,” he says. “I think more than 80 percent [on the survey] were completing their work by some digital mechanism. I think they were asked, if tuition could do any one thing, students more or less universally chose better overall tech solutions and kept infrastructure over any other upgrade.”
“When you poll students, clearly have a thirst for that,” he says.