Often we tend to think of applications like word processors as productivity tools. The reality is that they are creativity tools. We say this because the key applications that students and staff use in their everyday work bring one common but powerful factor to their ways of working.
Good software tools allow the user to edit their work, and if they are really good they make that editing very, very easy. Editing something on screen means that the user must have thought about what is already there and decided that, for whatever reason, they wish to change it. This is reflection and reflection is thinking – what computers do is encourage thinking and reflection by facilitating editing.
When thinking what software to put into your facilities ask students what they need and would like. Students have a wide variety of learning styles and landscapes of intelligence – and these change over time. Provide access not just to the usual desktop environments like the word processor but also give access to social and mobile learning software.
An increasing number of our students are accustomed to using technology and have high expectations to work with a range of applications, environments and digital media – don’t disappoint them! After all if learning is social then why restrict the use of the very software that encourages social interaction? We need to engage all learners with our institutions – the greatest threat is that our software and systems become irrelevant to our learners.