Learning in the 21st century

Technology is so important for learning.

“A huge portion of my day revolves around the use of technology,” says Melanie Higgins, a writing mentor for Professor Kim Jaxon’s Academic Writing class. “It only makes sense that I would use it in school.”

“Technology is so important for learning,” she adds.

Melanie was skeptical at first, stepping into one of Jaxon’s high enrollment courses as a freshman. “Kim said that we would be researching social media as a team and using social networking sites like Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, and YouTube to understand how social media shapes our culture and identity,” she says.

Jaxon described herself as a research partner rather than an instructor. She did little lecturing, instead facilitating group research through digital platforms such as Twitter, Diigo, and Google Docs.

“We have evidence that students do better in classes when they have multiple ways to demonstrate participation,” says Jaxon. “Digital platforms and technologies can provide these spaces and connect students to each other and people beyond our classroom walls.”

Melanie quickly got used to the collaborative learning model and loved working on projects with her classmates.

“We especially used Twitter, and as we added friends from the class, it quickly became a way we could see what we were working on and learn about each other,” says Melanie, now a senior English major. “Technology also speeds things up, like meeting people, researching, and writing, which is great when you only have one semester to write an inquiry paper on a huge subject.”

“I spent weeks perfecting my inquiry paper because it wouldn’t only be read by the teacher. It was a research project that was important to me and my peers.”

Melanie adds that learning how to make meaningful connections—online and off, in class and beyond—has been the most important part of her education. “The people I've met in Chico have been such a huge positive influence in my life. That includes my close friends, professors, coworkers, and Chico locals I've met in coffee shops. These people have been the best thing about my Chico Experience. Every single one has challenged me to learn more about myself and use what I've learned to make an impact.” 

Professors across campus are using technologies help students connect, from mentoring 8th-graders in Harlem via the Internet to hosting a mega-center for business-enterprise software.

English professor Kim Jaxon (center) designs lesson plans for her Academic Writing course with student mentors Melanie Higgins and Pheng Yang.
English professor Kim Jaxon (center) designs lesson plans for her Academic Writing course with student mentors Melanie Higgins and Pheng Yang.