Undergraduates’ technology problems and needs – Inside Higher Ed

Technology has helped many students continue their educations during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has also added to their burdens. Now, a new survey of 820 U.S. undergraduates highlights the new normal—from students’ perspective—of the higher ed tech landscape. The survey, “2022 Students and Technology Report: Rebalancing the Student Experience,” was published this week by Educause, a nonprofit focused on information technology in higher education.

Despite broad tech savviness among college students, the survey found many struggle with tech challenges beyond their control, such as unstable internet access. At the same time, assistive technologies designed for students with disabilities appear to help all students. Also, while students are mostly self-reliant when troubleshooting technology challenges, colleges still have a role to play in providing backup as they work to resolve technology problems, the authors of the survey report concluded.

Technology often enhances students’ abilities to learn, but it can also present hurdles. In the past year, more than three-quarters of the students who responded to the survey (77 percent) encountered at least one technology challenge, and more than half (51 percent) reported that those challenges induced stress.

Most of the survey respondents (64 percent) struggled with unstable internet connections, including more than one-quarter (29 percent) who reported that they lost connectivity during a class meeting, exam or other synchronous activity.

Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) had a required device malfunction when needed, and more than one-third (39 percent) found themselves unable to run a required application or software when needed.

“Compassionate teaching practices such as flexible deadlines and attendance policies will go a long way in helping students manage unreliable internet access,” said Jenay Robert, Educause researcher and author of the report.

Solutions to technology challenges are not one-size-fits-all, according to Jessica Rowland Williams, director of Every Learner Everywhere, an organization focused on digital learning in higher education. Rather, digital learning challenges may look different based on the type of student and institution. For example, urban HBCU students without internet access may face a different set of challenges than rural tribal college students without internet access, according to Williams.

“Many of those challenges are layered,” Williams said. “Even if we were to solve all the internet issues and everyone has excellent internet, then [you need to ask], ‘Do they have the right device?’ or ‘Are they working from a cellphone’ or ‘Do they have a laptop?’ And if they have the right device, ‘Is the course structured in a way where the students are actually going to be engaged?’”

Assistive Technology Helps All …….

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/10/04/undergraduates-technology-problems-and-needs

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