Half of college students are stressed out by tech issues

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Students are adjusting to online learning but technology challenges persist, according to survey results published Monday by Educause.

Seventy-seven percent of students said they experienced technical issues over the 2021-22 academic year, and 51% of this group reported that such issues caused them to feel stressed.

In line with survey results from 2020, unstable internet connections topped the list of tech problems experienced by students — 64% reported unstable internet and 35% said it caused them stress. Twenty-nine percent of students said their devices had dropped internet connection during class, exams or other activities.

When students run into technology issues, they usually try and solve them on their own, but still want access to campus IT resources, according to the survey. Educause found 21% of students still visited campus to get access to hardware and 14% visited for Wi-Fi access. Not all students reported feeling supported by their institutions, and some said their college had done nothing to help them be successful.

The 2022 Students and Technology Report, which includes responses from 820 undergraduate students, addresses students’ technology challenges and solutions, modality preferences, access to educational technology and student success.

While students’ learning preferences have shifted toward online options since 2020, even students who prefer face-to-face instruction want to be able to access online resources, the report found. Students who expressed a preference for face-to-face instruction noted concerns about social interaction and engagement lacking in online instruction.

“I feel like I don’t pay enough attention. I’m on my own, compared to when I am in a lecture with the teacher explaining it,” said one student quoted in the survey report.

But several students said that personal circumstances and work obligations made remote study a preferable option.

“Students’ message to higher education leaders is clear: it’s time to rebalance,” reads the Educause report, which also notes an opportunity for educators to build opportunities for social interaction in online learning.

The report also encourages educators and IT leaders to think of students as complex human beings, with dreams and career aspirations beyond just crossing the stage at graduation.

“The country is shifting focus to ‘working to live’ instead of ‘living to work,’ and students are no different,” the report reads.

A second report, also published Monday, addresses results from the same survey relating to student data privacy and security. It concluded that institutions need to do more to inform students how their personal data will be used.

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