Yes, technology challenge a real thing. There are many levels of technical competencies among adults. They range from knowing how to work a smartphone and basic email to downloading the latest and greatest apps to organize every aspect of their life and everything in between. But it’s those unprepared adult learners who are returning to the classroom that may notice it the most. Especially for those students who are attending online or technology-rich courses. Despite technical advances, many adults are still uncomfortable using technology outside of a basic smartphone.
Working for an edtech assessment company, it is easy to assume that everyone knows what wifi is. Like I tell others when describing what my company does “we live and die by our computers”. However, we work with colleges and universities across the country who deal with adult learners who may have a deficit when it comes to working with technology. According to a recent article in eCampus News, there are 5 Stages of Digital Readiness for Adult Online Students, suggesting only 17% of adults are considered “digitally ready”. The article does a good job of describing the various levels of learner readiness. In addition, the attitudes and behaviors are examined that can contribute to the overall willingness to embrace it.
Many schools recognize the importance of measuring tech savviness and administer the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator. Upon completing the assessment, students have a better understanding of their strengths and opportunities for improvement. The administrators also have access to the robust student data, equipping them to proactively engage the student and connect them with resources to overcome areas of challenge. The technology section also asks specific questions about how a student would connect to the internet and if they in fact own a computer. While this may seem obvious, working with over 4 million students and 600 colleges across the country, I assure you, it is more common than you may think.
Rasmussen College recently opened a Chicago-based learning center expanding access to higher education by providing computer workstations, connectivity, and academic coaching. This effort was due in part to the fact that only 53% of families living near Rasmussen College have regular access to internet. This is just one example of how higher learning institutions are being proactive to increase overall access to education recognizing the technology barrier.
As educators and consultants, we have to remember that not everyone lives in a heavily-populated, metropolitan areas with access to citywide wifi and libraries on every corner. It’s not enough to offer alternative learning environments for students. We must build the bridge for them to reach us.