The EEE Guarantee
The way college classrooms have operated has changed drastically in just a short amount of time, and now schools across the country are seeing even more of a push to fully integrate technology as part of their educational resources. On Feb. 1, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan proposed their National Broadband Plan. Their overall message is to create a completely technology-equipped classroom from kindergarten through college, making textbooks a thing of the past.
“If we want American students to be the best prepared to compete in the 21st century global economy, we can’t allow a majority of our students to miss out on the opportunities of digital textbooks,” said Genachowski at the Digital Learning Day Town Hall. “Digital learning is critical to the future of education in our country and to our global competiveness.”
Nearly every classroom on campus is equipped with some form of technology, from projectors, computers and microphones, to Wi-Fi and surround sound. With these technological perks in mind, it is safe to say that UC Irvine has embraced the benefits of the electronically advanced classroom setting as a core aspect of how classes function.
The FCC and U.S. Department of Education’s stance is not a new one. In 1913, Thomas Edison also felt that technology was a revolutionary aspect to education. Instead of iPads and e-books, he believed in integrating motion picture media as a learning tool. Edison’s stance on technological advances may have stood in the fact that he was likely to profit from the commercial scale of integration. According to columnist Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, this too is speculated to be the case with the Department of Education’s plan and Apple, the leading promoter of e-books and electronic devices in replacement of textbooks.
Hiltzik writes, “The push for advanced technology in the schoolroom then and now was driven by commercial, not pedagogical, considerations.”
Commercial gain aside, technology equipped classrooms have a major impact in how students of all ages learn. The average UCI student takes advantage of these technological advancements every day, from using EEE to upload assignments and save paper, to downloading slides in class to follow along with their lecturer. With the new mandated technology fee in action this quarter, many students are evaluating how much importance rests on fully equipped smart classrooms.
“I think [with] technology in the classroom we’re privy to like projectors, screens, podium electronics and other general tech provided to the professor to aid lecture quality and demonstration is great.” said Kris Lloy, a senior English major at UCI. “It does help me learn, as most of those things are far more stimulating and engaging learning materials than staring at a white board. What I don’t find particularly necessary is Wi-Fi in classrooms though. I personally don’t use a laptop on campus, but the students I do see using their PCs and Macs in classrooms are generally on things like Facebook, chat programs or even shopping for shoes.”
In light of a greater push for K-12 schools to become more technologically advanced, UC Irvine, along with many other U.S. colleges, has embraced electronic learning environments with full force. Yet disgruntled students now realize this does not come without cost. The new Education Technology Initiative Fee helps support services such as EEE, classroom technology, computer labs and wireless access on campus. Although many classrooms are equipped with an abundance of technological equipment, not all professors utilize the entirety of what smart classrooms have to offer. However, in equipping all classrooms similarly, a variety of courses can be housed in different locations on campus without losing out on preferred technological perks. While textbooks may not exactly be going extinct at the UC Irvine campus, the fact remains that many students have become accustomed to smart classroom environments, and it is UC Irvine’s priority to maintain that standard.