By Prof. Maura A. Smale, Prof. Mariana Regalado, Prof. Jean Amaral
Commentary specific to Hostos Community College provided by Eric Ritholz

Please view the FULL VERSION here:

It includes greater detail, explanation, and examples from both CUNY students and faculty. This was a qualitative study to explore the
experiences of CUNY students and faculty using technology in online and hybrid courses.

A woman typing


Summary of findings and recommendations

CUNY students and faculty use myriad technologies intentionally and creatively to achieve learning goals.

  • Faculty feel overwhelmed by instructional technologies available to them for teaching hybrid and online courses. More consistent training and support for technology use in teaching are indicated.
  • Students do much of their work for hybrid and online courses on campus and require access to robust WiFi as well as computer labs and printing; they may have inconsistent access to technology o campus. Maintaining and upgrading campus-based computing support and infrastructure is key to student success.
  • Smartphones are the most common technology that students have access to, though limitations of required digital platforms constrain their ability to use smartphones for their academic work. University-supplied/supported platforms (e.g., Blackboard, Microsoft365, etc.) should be evaluated for mobile readiness, and when possible, technologies should be selected based on mobile usability.
  • Both students and faculty bring into the classroom functional and user experience expectations based on consumer-facing technologies, and often report that required academic digital platforms fall short. CUNY should leverage its position as a significant customer to seek improvements to bring educational technologies in line with commercial standards in user experience and usability.
  • Students and faculty express a desire for more connection and community in their hybrid and online courses; increased use of synchronous or asynchronous video could meet these needs.
  • Students expressed frustration with a lack of technical support for online learning outside of business hours. Recommendations include moving course deadlines to within business hours and increasing after-hours support CUNY-wide.
  • Students and faculty are interested in more training and support around the technology used in hybrid and online courses but are largely unaware of existing training opportunities. Increasing awareness of campus training opportunities and creating/promoting online training opportunities across the university (for Blackboard, in particular) may address this need.

Expectations of Online Environment

Responses from both students and faculty contained implicit, and sometimes explicit, expectations for educational technology to perform as well as and in similar ways to the technology they used in other settings. These expectations for high levels of usability, user experience, and support set a bar that educational technology is not meeting in many cases.

Time and Support

Both students and faculty articulated hopes and frustrations with how hybrid and online classes impacted their ability to manage their time. Underlying these hopes and frustrations we detect a shared expectation of technology as a time saver. Student responses clustered around their experiences with deadlines, support, and notifications and were framed for many by their perception that the workload in their hybrid or online course was heavier than in their face-to-face classes. Sometimes these three were entangled in the student experience as they were for this student describing frustrations with online learning: more work than on-campus classes, shorter deadlines, fewer examples of what exactly is wanted in assignments. some professors also are less involved.

HOSTOS EdTech: Through training and accurate feedback, issues of time management can be addressed. In general, one venue for learning is not intended to be easier than any other. However, the demands and support for each need to be handled differently. Community and Connection Both students and faculty expressed the use of more and varied technologies to deliver content and create interactive experiences. As one faculty member noted, students “are savvy with gadgets and software that enhance their personal lives, but they lose confidence when navigating technologies for learning.” The needed support will not always fall during the institution’s help desk hours, as noted by those students who have 11:59 p.m. assignment deadlines. While many of our study participants articulated frustrations with Blackboard, neither students nor faculty are likely taking advantage of capabilities that might address some of those frustrations. For example, notification or alert options are available in Blackboard and other technologies, though they may be more limited than what students and faculty are accustomed to from banks and other companies. This study indicates that many students and faculty may not be aware of the options available and may require additional training to better leverage their instructional technologies.

Hostos EdTech: New online help desk elements are being developed that will prioritize after-hours requests to be put to the top of the queue. FAQs and resources are being updated or revised accordingly to address problems specific to HOSTOS students, faculty, and staff.

Overall, this needs to be a constant reactive system that continues to adjust and react to the needs of each specific learning community. Facilitating and supporting what is currently in use while readily adopting and integrating new technologies and solutions will result in a better learning experience for all involved.



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