The falling costs of owning our own devices and the increasing ubiquity of broadband for most means that thankfully, technology is increasingly a leveler for students. Many universities provide the devices for the students to use on campus further delivering a means to access resources more easily and deliver the digital campus for all. On campus at least, technology has the ability to remove most barriers to learning and provides the right resources for all. Off-campus, this is becoming the case too – and those who are disadvantaged or have a mental or physical disability are benefiting from technology advances. Here we’ve looked at some of those benefits.
Having access to resources is the number one benefit of technology. Instead of having to physically visit the library, most library services can now be accessed online. Accessible resources, delivered to a device, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection is a huge leveler. Those less able to reach a physical location for whatever reason can do so digitally. The creation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) delivers hope to those who may not have been in education for a long time but have a desire to pick up wherever they left off. It can be stepping stone back into the world of studying, a tester to build confidence before making a bigger leap of faith which may not have otherwise been taken at all.
It’s not an overstatement to say that technology is driving global literacy. Utilising technology to increase learning can offer solutions to the greatest number of people globally. There are regions of the world where young people don’t have access to the educational resources they need – but do have increasing access to an internet connection and an affordable device. Inexpensive educational software and systems that can be accessed via the web will offer resources and hope to many – and may also be used offline should the internet not be accessible.
For those students with disabilities, technology really helps to level the playing field. Physical disabilities that prevent access to university buildings, teaching and resources can be delivered via the digital campus, or at the very least, supplemented via digital means. Sight-impaired or blind students have found voice-activated software and supplemental digital reading materials available in a readable format to help them in their studies. Those who need extra help in reading those resources can be aided digitally, and those institutions that can deliver e-textbooks for students, prevent the need for physically disabled students to carry heavy books around.
The most common type of disability is a specific learning difference, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. According to the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) in 2015/16, almost half of those students with a known disability who started a higher education programme had a specific learning difference. Plus, those students with a known mental condition has risen in recent years too. The digital campus environment helps students organise their learning the way they want it to be, based upon their personal and individual needs - whatever those may be. They can learn how, when and from where they want.
The digital campus empowers students in their learning to achieve what they want regardless of their starting point in life, making anything possible.
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