2022 Students and Technology Report: Rebalancing the Student Experience

Technology Challenges and Solutions

Unreliable technology is (still) stressful. While educational technology can certainly enhance students' experiences, it can present some challenges as well. More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents reported having experienced one or more technology issues (from a provided list; see figure 1) within the past academic year (i.e., 2021–22). More than half (51%) reported that at least one of these issues caused them stress. In keeping with previous research results, unstable internet connections top the list, with 64% of respondents saying that they have experienced this and 35% reporting that it caused them stress. Over a quarter (29%) of respondents said that in the past academic year, their primary device lost connectivity to the internet during a class session, exam, or other synchronous activity. Educators looking for ways to integrate more online instructional components might find that streamlining and supporting technology integration is a key element for success.

Figure 1. Technology Issues Experienced over the 2021–22 Academic Year
Stacked bar charts for seven technology issues. For each issue, data show the percentage of respondents who have experienced it without stress, experienced it with stress, or have not experienced it. Topping the list is unstable internet connections, with about a third of respondents experiencing it with stress and another third experiencing it without stress. Other issues are device malfunctioning when needed, inability to run required apps or software, not having needed apps or software, improperly configured devices, lack of access to primary device when needed, and device breaking when needed. Each issue was experienced with stress by at least 12% of respondents.

Students mostly help themselves with technology issues. A persistent finding in EDUCAUSE research is that students try to solve technology problems on their own, and they typically do their own troubleshooting or ask friends and family for help. In this year's survey, we investigated specific ways in which students use their institution's resources and ways in which they meet their own needs (see figure 2). Visiting a campus for access to hardware (21%) or Wi-Fi (14%) were the two institutional resources selected by the most respondents. This finding is particularly helpful as institutions reconsider teaching modalities and the purposes of their physical spaces. In contrast, more respondents indicated that they were using self-sourced solutions. In general, this is not inherently a bad trend. However, educational technology leaders might use this information to bolster existing support offerings (or improve communication strategies). For example, nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) said that they bought a new digital device, suggesting that institutions might be able to provide more one-to-one device services such as device lending programs.

Figure 2. Use of Institutional and Self-Sourced Services and Solutions
Bar chart indicating the percentage of respondents who reported using five institutional and five self-sourced solutions to technology issues. In general, more respondents used self-sourced solutions such as personally troubleshooting issues, buying a new device, and subscribing to or upgrading home internet services. Each of these five items was selected by 17% to 27% of respondents. Each of the five institutional solutions was selected by 8% to 21% of respondents and included visiting a campus location for hardware or Wi-Fi access, receiving help from IT support, and receiving financial support to purchase hardware or software.