From the Student: Ryan Vanshur

Ryan VanshurSince returning from the private sector to pursue my education, I’ve always been the student who sits in the front row, asks questions, and helps out my peers.

I like to engage during the lecture, and I’ve always wondered why the students in the back never participate.

So when I transferred from community college to San Diego State University (SDSU) in the fall of 2012 to begin the next chapter of my educational career, imagine my surprise when I was immediately diagnosed with cancer. After choosing to undergo a rigorous chemotherapy treatment while maintaining my full-time status, I had to find ways to compensate for the missed instructional hours, the opportunities for office visits, and the other basic educational resources over the next two years. My digital literacy and tech savviness became my secret weapons as my GPA was not only uncompromised, but actually improved.

During my treatment, when I could attend class, I sat in the back. I lost 40 pounds in my first 30 days of chemo, all of my hair, and, eventually, my confidence. As I relocated to the back to hide from the spotlight of the front row, I started to understand why those in the back chose to be there.

They were the techies—the students who did not need to engage in the front because they were comfortable leveraging their technology to supplement their curiosity in the back. Quick google searches, ebook content, note-taking platforms, and more replaced the need for line paper and dividers, all wrapped up in a two-inch-thick binder that only continued to swell as the semester progressed. I met a misunderstood group of learners who chose to use a more “frowned upon” method of receiving and organizing information, and I learned from and with them.

coursekeyAfter my recovery, I began working with a group of these students on developing and launching CourseKey. Throughout the process, I gained considerable insight and knowledge into how students and professors alike utilize the day’s hottest instruments inside the higher-education classroom.

Now, I want to share what I learned with you.

Throughout this ebook, SDSU Professor Kevin Popovic and I will dissect the EdTech debate from all angles, making revelations and drawing conclusions—and more questions, to be certain—about where technology was, is, and will go in the classroom. For professors, this ebook will enhance the understanding of how technology can be used in the classroom and how they can best connect with their students to improve learning outcomes through powerful, memorable lectures and assessments. For students, this ebook will help maximize the return on their investment in their education, and it will help them develop a dialog with their professors, resulting in a stronger, more engaging professional learning environment.

As you read, I encourage you to think about how you’re using—or how you’ve used—technology to enhance your learning or your teaching. Together, we’ll discover the power and the challenges of these nifty modern-day learning tools.

Ryan Vanshur
Student, San Diego State University
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