The Use of Technology to Increase Access to USHE:. Leveling the Playing Field, or Widening the Socio-economic Chasm?. Week 5 Assignment: DRAFT 2 Initial Dissertation Prospectus HEOC 803: Dissertation Seminar Benedictine University John Smith-Coppes 7/29/2012. Prospectus Outline.
Leveling the Playing Field,
or Widening the
Week 5 Assignment: DRAFT 2
Initial Dissertation Prospectus
HEOC 803: Dissertation Seminar
“We found that access to American higher education is unduly limited by the complex interplay of inadequate preparation, lack of information about college opportunities, and persistent financial barriers.” (Spellings, p.1)
Although many questions have been raised regarding the impact of technology on the actual processes surrounding the student life, learning framework, economic impact, and educational outcomes “on the campus,” relatively little has been addressed regarding the actual impact of technological vehicles being utilized by USHE (specifically, colleges and universities across the nation) for increasing real vs. perceived access to disparate bodies of college-bound student populations, often-times referred to as “awareness.”
Technology is rapidly reshaping the landscape of higher education. (Altbach, et al, 2005) Although USHE has focused collectively on the exploration of the utilization of technological applications for improving access, affordability, graduation rates, economies of scale, and learning outcomes in today’s higher education realm, the issue of equitably increasing transparent accessibility for the college-bound student has yet to be demonstrated; contrary to popular belief, technological advances and utilization of certain communication and information systems may be causing a greater social divide between geographically and economically disparate college-bound families, rather than actually bridging the information gap between families of varied socio-economic standards.
The purpose of this qualitative, interpretive ethnographic study is to explore the phenomena of whether an increased institutional web-focus on admissions processes is creating the assumed dynamic of equitable and increased access for all, or rather is creating declining and disparate enrollments, as well as a perceived barrier to entry, for incoming USHE students from low socio-economic backgrounds, ultimately not bridging the information gap between families of varied socio-economic standards as initially expected.
“Findings suggest that low-income students do have access to computers but lack the knowledge and support needed to navigate the financial aid resources available online.” (Venegas, 2006)
“How will the current wave of information and communication technologies affect the future of higher education? Will technological advances allow universities to provide a higher quality education to more people? Or will advances result in a net decrease in educational quality and accentuate the divide between the haves and have-nots? (Altbach, 2005)
“Although access does not guarantee understanding, access must come first before literacy can be addressed. Further research is needed in order to better understand the role played by parents in preparing their children for the digital age.” (Madigan, 2005)
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