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Digital technology has become integral to higher education, incorporated by colleges and universities into teaching, student support and operations. We know that undergraduates lead busy lives, especially those attending commuter universities, and that they bring their prior experiences with technology with them into their college careers. However, while technology access and use in our everyday lives and workplaces has increased in the past few decades, it is not as ubiquitous as we might wish, and our students do encounter barriers to learning and connecting with digital technologies.

We draw on our decade of research on the experiences of CUNY undergraduate students, studying how, where, when and with what tools they do their academic work, to explore the ways in which college students use digital technology. We have found that CUNY students’ technology access varies, and we have discussed with students the challenges they face when they need or want to use technology in their coursework. Our undergraduates are successful in many of their uses of technology and have developed innovative strategies to overcome the barriers they may face. The results of our research can inform strategies for bridging gaps to ensure our undergraduates’ success in and beyond college.


This work was the keynote presentation at the 2019 CUNY IT Conference held in New York NY.



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