Does Engaging Technology Unlock Lessons Students Love?

Malcolm Woodfield

This year, parents will drop their kids off at schools that teach traditional topics. They won’t be teaching them in ways Mom or Dad ever experienced, though. Teachers will bring these students into classrooms that are seamlessly connected to technology.

When the final bell rings, children will rush home to finish their homework, but they’ll go right past the pens and pencils. Instead, they’ll sit down with the glow of a tablet or a smart phone on their faces. They’re not goofing off; they’re studying. These students will connect with their instructors and other students online. Together, they’ll conduct entire projects through digital systems.

A digital transformation

High schools across the nation are scrambling to introduce new technology that will meet the demands of the digital age. Their aim is to make students college- and career-ready. The result will be thousands of graduates with vastly different expectations about school.

This isn’t a passing fad. The 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) calls for schools to keep up with new trends in technology in order prepare students for the real world. According to the plan, “Technology can enable personalized learning or experiences that are more engaging and relevant.”


Engaging and relevant. Together, those concepts offer the key to effective use of technology in education. From elementary through graduate school, the focus is now on these two words.

There’s a growing demand for hyper-connectivity everywhere from offices to campgrounds. Because of this, the concept of traditional learning is also shifting. “Digital” is the new “print.” “Mobile” is the new “engaging.” And “personalized” is the new “relevant.”

In fact, Project Tomorrow’s 2012 report shows that this demand is nothing new. When topics generate student interest, the learners seek more information online. “Students now expect in their learning lives the same types of personalized interactions that adults already experience in our everyday lives,” the report says. This expectation has created a revolution in today’s pedagogies.

Seamless learning

Students want technology to be such an integral part of the process that nobody notices it. According to The Open University’s Innovating Pedagogy 2013 report, “Mobile technologies are enabling learning to continue across contexts, so a piece of work started in the classroom can be continued at home; and ideas that occur on the move can be shared with colleagues online, then followed up in person.” This means educators are extending more educational technology beyond the classroom. It’s happening so much that this has become a standard expectation of students.

This year’s high school graduates will have a taste of this new direction for learning. They’ll know how exciting it can be. As a result, they will expect even more out of their higher education. Soon colleges and universities will be scrambling to create student-centered education.

Unlocking engagement

Technology can engage students if it offers what students have come to expect. Today’s learners want curriculum that is engaging and relevant to the real world. These students carry powerful devices that can make the learning experience seamless with technology. All educators have to do is leverage it.

Welcome to the new age of education. Here, the right technology can actually unlock student engagement.

Learn more about digital transformation at Higher Education and Research. Reimagined for the new economy.


Malcolm Woodfield

About Malcolm Woodfield

Malcolm Woodfield is the Global Vice President, Head of Industry Business Unit Education & Research, at SAP. He manages a global team accountable for the overall business, market, customer, and revenue success of the Higher Education / Public Services portfolio (including all Applications, Analytics, Mobile, HANA, and Cloud) globally.