Don't overlook this side of welcoming underrepresented students to campus

IT departments need to understand students' experience with technology coming into college

With an increasingly diverse student population, colleges must adapt their IT strategies to changing demographics, Aletha Noonan writes for EdTech

From 2010 to 2021, enrollment of black, Hispanic, and Asian students is expected to skyrocket. Low-income and first-generation students are also making up greater shares of the student population. Despite the growing numbers of underrepresented students, colleges have been slow to ensure that their IT practices align with these students' needs.

Students from low-income school districts in particular may not arrive at college with the same access to digital technology as their more affluent peers, meaning that they are likely to fall behind. But IT departments can better address these digital discrepancies by paying closer attention to shifting student demographics.

IT leaders can work with faculty who are incorporating technology into their curricula to determine the ways in which technology can be made more accessible. Questions to consider include:

  • How comfortable are students using digital technology?
  • Are students able to bring their own devices to campus?
  • Is the institution investing in the appropriate digital resources for its student population?

For example, California State University, Monterey Bay, used a $300,000 grant to develop a technology rental program that allows students to rent devices such as tablets, digital cameras, and laptops for up to one semester. Low-income, first-generation, and disabled students at Northern Arizona University can also borrow notebook computers from the school (Noonan, EdTech, 9/26). 

What do students want from technology?

  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague