University of California, Riverside

Student Technology Fee

Technology Fee - Background

Student technology fees at colleges and universities have been in place for more than a decade. The following notes provide information on the technology’s impact on engagement and student learning, the expectations of high school students relating to technology on campus, and statistics and metrics concerning technology fees at universities across the United States.

Leveraging Technology to Support Student Engagement and Student Success

In his recent 2010 review, Malcolm Brown offers several thoughts concerning the use of technology to facilitate and enable student engagement, active / participatory learning, and student success.

Read "Leveraging Technology" by Malcom Brown…

Taken from EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 45, no. 5 (September/October 2010)

Malcolm Brown
Director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI).

Looking across the five summaries, we can distill some core ideas they share and collectively embody. These core ideas can serve as the starting point for any instructor or course design team to open a dialogue on how to gain and retain student engagement.

Students are more engaged when they are knowledge creators, in addition to being knowledge receivers. We learn best by listening, critiquing, and doing. This theme is very pronounced in the cases related by Professors Jacobs and Auslander. Auslander had his students build websites and online resources for use by a wider audience, and Jacobs encouraged his students to "tell their own stories" and to bring in their own material to discuss in class. Jacobs summarizes this point when he notes that he seeks to move students beyond being critical consumers of media to becoming "powerful producers of media content." Green makes this point as well: he explains that an objective of his course design is to enhance the educational experience of students "by engaging in highly interactive web-based techniques."

Students are more engaged when there is a feeling of producing work for a wider audience. In traditional, transmission-based learning modes, students generally compose their work for a very small audience: the class instructor and sometimes the teaching assistants. By contrast, in these cases, students' work is reviewed and critiqued by peers and, in the case of Auslander, produced for members of the local community. This contributes to a sense that the work matters, that it is visible to a wider audience, and that something is at stake beyond the grade. Auslander's students could see directly the contribution their work had made. We might call this "open" coursework, and as these cases demonstrate, it can help foster student engagement.

Students are more engaged when there is selective use of the formal and the informal. Jacobs's use of both the "Debate House" and the "Coffee House" is striking. Both are vehicles for engaging the students in discussions of the course material, but the two are designed very differently. The Debate House had a very deliberate structure and method, whereas in the Coffee House, students "could do whatever they wanted . . . as long as topics were related to the course in some way." Both venues are effective, even when they are conducted side by side in the same course. Hull describes a very deliberate class-debate structure, with "dueling webpages" constructed before the class session. Although this was a more formal, structured venue, students participated in an engaged manner. The cases also make clear that debate and even controversy, if managed constructively, can stimulate interest and engagement, with clear and active exchanges in a variety of venues.

Students are more engaged when there is a variety of alternative venues for expression. These cases show that it is important to achieve widespread engagement across all class participants so that each student can find his or her voice and thereby address the assignment with confidence. This was clear from Jacobs's case: by providing a variety of ways for students to participate in class discussion, even shy students had a means of articulating their views. Indeed, Jacobs notes that of those more reluctant to speak in front of others, "some become more outspoken in class after receiving affirmation from their peers online." Hull tells of using Twitter for a twofold purpose: "to help the bashful students voice their positions and to facilitate more student interaction than class time allows." Once students find their "class voice," they can be confident participants, with greater engagement as a result.

Students are more engaged when it is clear that what they learn will serve them elsewhere and is transferable to other contexts. A student will be more engaged if he or she knows that the knowledge and the skills acquired in a course will be of use in other contexts. Participating in the course offers much more opportunity than simply receiving the course content for the purposes of passing the final exam. Hull makes this explicit as one of his course design goals: "providing students with 21st-century media skills."

Students are more engaged when there is a sense of a learning community. In each of these cases, the students, through interactions among themselves, developed a sense of themselves as a learning community. This sense of community can be encouraged through a device as simple as Hull's "film festival," the class meeting at which the best of the video assignments were aired. Community can also be fostered by exercises such as those described by Gredone, who notes: "Students learn from each other . . . and discover how to capitalize on their classmates' different skill sets."

Students are more engaged when they help to steer the ship. The use of Twitter by Green and Hull illustrates that providing students with a sense of empowerment leads directly to a sense of engagement. The backchannel discussion allows students to help "steer" the course of a class session. As Jacobs puts it: "Students very much appreciate opportunities to be teachers who can influence the learning of others."

Students are more engaged when story and narrative are used effectively. Both Hull and Jacobs use assignments based in story and narration. The use of video and images as the medium for this narration has, as we learn from Jacobs, a dual effect: not only is narration engaging in its own right, but Jacobs encourages his students "to learn how to tell their own stories as a way of influencing how the media in turn portrays them." Students can learn more about the media and how it works by becoming media producers.

An additional theme that emerges from these five summaries is the need to evaluate and to determine what works well and what does not. Gredone succinctly states: "All of these [technology] choices and their varieties are evolving—hence the need to constantly evaluate and change them along the way." Green was assiduous in surveying his students to see which of the technologies were effective and which were not. One of his primary objectives was "to gather baseline data related to the adoption of emergent technologies by students and document improved academic successes." With so many options, gathering some measure of evidence as to what is effective, and for whom, becomes essential.

There is no magic formula for generating student engagement; no single method or technique will produce satisfactory results every time. As circumstances vary, instructors and course designers will need to take them into account. Nevertheless, these five summaries provide some very good leads, points of departure, and ways of getting started. The sharing of our experiences, as these five faculty have done, fosters a dialogue that moves us toward engagement, toward providing more meaningful educational experiences for our students.

What are High School Students Saying?

High school students are increasing evaluating universities relating to how technology is infused within the instructional environment. Colleges and universities are attempting to meet these expectations in a variety of ways, including blended and digitally enriched classroom experiences.

Read about "Classroom Technology"...

Taken from Classroom Technology on July 19, 2010

High school students place a high priority on colleges that mix technology into their instruction, according to a report released today. And college campuses are trying to meet that demand by adding digital content, virtual learning and online collaboration software to their toolboxes.

An online survey of 1,019 college students, faculty and IT staff, called the CDW-G 2010 21st-Century Campus Report, shows that colleges are creating interactive learning experiences with these tools. The report also compares this survey's findings with those of the 21st-Century Classroom Report released last month.

Student college selection criteria:

  • 63 percent of current college students say technology on campus was important in their college search.
  • 93 percent of today's high school students say campus technology is important in their college criteria.
  • 95 percent of today's high school students expect to use technology in their college classes.

Current college students consider these top five technologies extremely important: a wireless network (77 percent), accessing the campus network from an off-campus location (57 percent), course management system (47 percent), digital content such as online textbooks and course material they can download (40 percent), and multimedia content streaming (23 percent).

While high school students also chose a wireless network as their top priority, campus computer labs made the second slot on the list followed by digital content, off-campus network access and interactive whiteboards. So far, college IT staff members offer the top four technologies that tomorrow's students want to see when they make it to campus.

The high school students want to use this technology to do class assignments, communicate with classmates and professors, and prepare for the technology expectations in their field.

Technology as a learning tool:

  • 82 percent of faculty say technology is essential to success in their class and is a useful tool for students
  • 72 percent of IT staff say their institutions understand how faculty members want to use technology as a teaching tool
  • 85 percent of college students say technology is important as they study for their future career
  • 79 percent of IT professionals say their campus understands how students want to use technology

Technology in the classroom:

Compared to last year's survey, colleges are supporting more technology infrastructure and applications.

  • Videoconferencing access increased from 47 percent to 61 percent
  • Web conferencing access increased from 46 percent to 55 percent
  • Online chat access increased from 25 percent to 32 percent
  • IT professionals now support laptops (81 percent compared to last year's 72 percent), smart phones (50 percent compared to 46 percent), interactive whiteboards (43 percent compared to 38 percent) and student response systems (stayed at 34 percent)

Collaboration tools:

More than half of students use social media including Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wikis as educational tools. Sixty-four percent use them to study or work on projects with classmates at least several times per month.

  • 70 percent of colleges and universities surveyed offer digital content
  • 61 percent of colleges and universities provide virtual learning
  • 58 percent of colleges and universities use online collaboration software

Tech support:

  • 44 percent of IT staff members say they need to refresh their IT infrastructure, specifically in storage and security areas
  • Compared with faculty members, IT professionals hold a broader view of how technology can improve classrooms. Seventy-two percent of IT professionals say online collaboration software is essential, but 31 percent of faculty members agreed. Also, 68 percent of IT staff say virtual learning is a key part of higher education, but 35 percent of faculty members agreed.

University of California Student Technology Fee Study – 2003

The University of California sponsored a 2003 survey of student technology fees in higher education. This survey showed that 59% of doctoral granting universities charged a student technology fee. View the analysis of Student IT fees.

Student Technology Fee in Higher Education – Current

In its most recent survey, Educuase Core Data Survey indicates that approximately the same percent of doctoral granting institutions (59%) are charging a student technology fee (data as of Fall 2009).

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Student Technology Fee
Computing & Communicaions Bldg.

Tel: (951) 827-6495
Fax: (951) 827-2726