It seems that every year colleges are offering more perks to attract new students. From deluxe living facilities to accelerated courses, and even Groupons, they’re trying to think outside the box to get their message across. Not least among these attempts is a push to offer the best technology in the market. Through social media, blogs, podcasts, even virtual classrooms, universities are trying to develop a reputation for being tech savvy. But how much weight should you give that reputation (for good or ill) when making your final decision on a school? The answer to that question depends on why you’re asking.
Whether you’re motivated by finding a good job after graduation, facilitating the learning process, or just enhancing your college experience, your potential university’s reputation for technology will be more (or less) important. How is technology being used? If learning is your top priority, take a look at where an institution’s technology dollars are going. Are more resources being spent in the classroom, or in the marketing department? Schools may try to entice you with things like campus-wide WiFi or personalized websites, but studies are showing that students increasingly consider these things basic essentials of learning – not frills to be wowed with.
Instead, pay attention to institutions that are using technology in more innovative ways to support the education process. Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, for example, has paired its School of Computer Science and College of Fine Arts to create the Entertainment Technology Center. This offers a joint program in which students can earn a master’s degree in entertainment technology (the first in the nation). Inventions created on campus are connected to real-world businesses via the Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation.