Published on 2013/11/05

Looking to Tech-Literacy to Increase Retention

Looking to Tech-Literacy to Increase Retention
Ensuring students have basic technological skills prior to their first classes can increase retention and success rates.
A returning non-traditional student recently approached our Dean of Students, Steve Hensley, to present her personal struggles transitioning back in to the college world. The student’s fear was that she was not as advanced technologically as younger students.

We took this concern really seriously and acted fast. Hensley formed a committee to work toward addressing the depths of technological challenges for non-traditional students. The committee found non-traditional students typically struggle when it comes to fluently participating in important areas such as;

  • Discussion boards
  • Accessing/submitting homework and exams
  • Checking class notifications/ announcements

We found that a few other local colleges and universities are working to amend similar areas of technological disadvantages for their non-traditional students. Some institutions even offered classes to help students gain basic technological skills, which are needed for a successful continuing education experience. In our case, Marshall University (MU) created a two-hour program called “Tech-Up” to address such disadvantages.

Tech-Up allows students who have technological disadvantages to build their basic technological skills and to gain skills specific to programs most often used by Marshall. The student can prepare skills they are expected to know and learn about the different technologies that are available to ensure they are receiving the best education possible. This gives students some insight into academic technological needs. Tech-Up can then fill in the gaps, focusing on the programs Marshall and many other universities use, such as Blackboard, Marshall Email etc.

Non-traditional students commonly have a college experience that revolves around other elements of their life: career, spouse and/or children etc. Without using appropriate resources students will find it more difficult to transition smoothly into college coursework. The generation of older students who have not used electronic resources as much as younger typical college students are more likely to encounter trouble. These students may try to navigate around technological disadvantages by playing “catch up”. This can lead to sub-par academic work and, needing twice the time to complete assignments that involve technology.

MU wants to stay current with new technology and make it easily available to students. It is our aim to improve the experience of non-traditional students and see an increase in non-traditional student enrollments. It is beneficial both for the student and the university for students to have some technological skills in order to promote a more successful college experience, while also improving retention rates for the university.

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Readers Comments

Chuck Schwartz 2013/11/05 at 12:04 pm

I hadn’t really considered the issue of tech literacy as prep for higher education.

Is this an issue that affects rural areas more than urban centers?

Kylie R 2013/11/05 at 2:56 pm

There was an interview last week with an administrator at SJSU who said that tech literacy isn’t a problem that affects adults more than 18-22s. She said in both groups there were a number of students who were highly functional, and a number of students who needed “tech support”.

Is the tech-up program exclusively for adults, or can students of any age be a part?

William J. Davis 2015/09/10 at 1:32 pm

I need all the help I can get!!!!

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