Author: Stephen Thomas
Although the affordability problem in higher education is not new, it is often seen as a problem that is only applicable to four-year institutions. Recent studies show that this is not true. According to recent studies, more than half of American community colleges are too expensive for students with low incomes.
Even more surprising is the fact that 70% of respondents to a survey by Temple University’s Hope Center for College Community and Justice found themselves homeless. A survey by Temple University’s Hope Center for College Community and Justice found that 70% of respondents experienced homelessness, food insecurity, or housing insecurity in the past year. This is why it’s not surprising that community college students are struggling to learn due to high textbook and course material prices. Dr. Marjorie Welch of Iowa Western Community College, Vice President for Academic Affairs, made this observation.
“[During] my time at Iowa Western, tuition has gone up each year. Concerns arise when I hear from faculty about students who aren’t purchasing books and students who are not succeeding in class because they don’t own books. I realize that this is something we can control.
Community colleges across the country are undergoing a digital transformation to reduce costs and provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Institutions can make it more affordable and accessible by incorporating digital learning tools, resources, and tools into their curriculum.
Continue reading to learn more about the digital leap and what it means for institutions. We also discuss how Cengage Unlimited Institutional can help community colleges bridge the gap between quality learning and affordability.
Transformation to Meet the Unique Needs Of Community College Students
Digital transformation can be difficult because of the diverse backgrounds, needs, and challenges of students at community colleges. Students need to be empowered by community college course materials. See Dr. Welch’s observations about her students at Iowa Western Community College.
“Over 50% of our students come from a first-generation [family], many of whom are of low socioeconomic status. They don’t have the support networks at home to receive help. Many of them have full-time jobs, while trying to get to school together. We see a need for students to receive education and training in our region. It doesn’t mean you have to plan on pursuing a four year degree, just because it is a community college. Although we can quickly get students into the workforce and earning a living wage, [students] must be able to successfully complete the courses.
Institutions looking to make the digital transition to help their students face unique challenges, such as those faced by community college students, are in a difficult position. Institutions must find solutions to their unique challenges, such as finding the right balance between high-quality learning materials that prepare students for the future and affordable solutions that allow students greater access.
A View from an Institutional Perspective on Digital Transformation
Although it may seem like an easy decision to make for students to be able to access and afford the learning materials they need, the institution-level challenges that come with such a change can be quite daunting. There are some things you should consider before making the digital leap to help students.
Adoption is an essential component of any digital transformation. While some community colleges choose campus-wide adoption, or segmented adoption across specific departments–solutions need to seamlessly cater to the specific implementation needs of the institution.
Ease of Use: Digital must be easy to use and intuitive for students and instructors. Students and instructors will learn more quickly if they are able to master new learning tools. This will allow them to use them to teach and learn effectively. These learning tools must be accessible to the user, so they can be used in a way that is compatible with students and instructors’ unique work environments.
Features and capabilities: Institutions use digital technology to improve teaching capabilities and increase learning opportunities for students. Digital transformation should include learning tools that enable instructors to make an impact on their students and give students access to learning tools that will improve their learning outcomes.
Technical Support: There will always be growing pains when adopting any new technology, product, or service.
Author: Stephen Thomas