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There are “mind-game” exercises you can do that allegedly help with memory. Similarly, there are innumerable articles about vitamins, minerals, supplements and herbs that claim to enhance memory “vitality.” But one thing is certain when it comes to memory- as you age, your brain becomes less flexible and the world around you becomes more distracting. Short-term memory recollection is compromised and focus is more difficult.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “In 2015, there were 11.8 million college and university students under age 25 and 8.1 million students 25 years old and over.” Also of note, the fastest growing cohort in US colleges and universities is the non-traditional student, which includes students 25 years and older. Students 25 years and older may face obstacles to learning and educational success in colleges and universities that traditionally cater to the traditional student population. We’ve written, prior, about non-traditional student enrollment being an opportunity for growth for colleges and universities with declining enrollment. But these opportunities come with the challenge of retaining this population of students who may not retain information the same as a traditional student.

 

How does this affect educational technologists? Individuals of all ages seem to remember items, interactions or concepts that are most impactful (both positively and negatively) to them. Technology rich learning environments can create impact. You’ve heard it before- it’s important to know your audience when designing, well, anything. The same is true for audiovisual systems- the great thing about our technology is that it can be equally impactful for a variety of groups. I recently read an article that referenced a study from the University of Maryland regarding the influence of Virtual Reality on retention. The article, titled “Study: People Remember Information Better Through VR”, is pretty self-explanatory. But it only addresses one specific type of technology that can not only assist with retention but positively affect student outcomes. (VR can also reduce institutional costs and increase safety- but that's another post.) 

My ask for you: How are your professors using technology to be impactful? Do you have professors who step out of the traditional box and make content engaging and memorable? Share below!