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The Impact of Computer Technology on Student Access and Success in the California Community Colleges

Computer technology has permeated the fabric of American society. Computer technology affects the way people communicate, the way they learn, and the way they do business. The ability to use computer technology effectively has become a distinct advantage in school and work. As computer technology has become a crucial element in educational and vocational advancement, concerns have grown that disparities in access to such technology limit the opportunities for many. This paper focuses in particular on the issues concerning computer technology and its impact on students in the California Community College System. The paper begins with a general review of the various concerns raised in education. The paper continues with an examination of the investments the California Community College System has made in technology and how these investments have affected student access and success. The paper concludes with recommendations for senates on both statewide and local levels regarding computer technology and its role at individual colleges and districts and in the System as a whole.

Recommendations

System-wide:

That the Academic Senate

  • continue to emphasize that system-wide technology planning includes many academic and professional issues
  • continue to advocate for increased funding for faculty development in order to prepare faculty to effectively use appropriate technology in instruction
  • continue to advocate for the technology resources needed to provide access to a quality education for all students
  • continue to advocate for resources necessary to gather the data needed on Student Equity indicators related to technology-mediated instruction
  • call on the System to conduct/support further research on the efficacy of distance education
  • call on the System to conduct further research on access to computer technology by all students
  • call on the System to conduct further research on access to and the efficacy of online services by all students

Local:

That local senates

  • work through their college/district technology committees to make sure that local technology plans are part of the budget and planning process, and that they address the issues of student access and success
  • work through their college/district technology/web site committees and with local high-tech specialists to make sure that ADA accessibility is being addressed in technology decisions
  • encourage faculty to address ADA access issues with respect to their own web pages, using the guidelines provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at www.w3c.org
  • incorporate issues of equitable access to computer technology into Student Equity Plans
  • work to ensure that Distance Education students have appropriate access to quality student services such as advisement and counseling services
  • work with their faculty to review curriculum in order to assure that key components of information competency are addressed
  • emphasize the use of faculty development funds to train faculty in the educational uses of information competency.

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