Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hidden Cost of Digital?

Here’s an article about colleges capping broadband usage on campus and students having to pay for data overlimit fees.  As digital books become more embedded with rich-media and takes up more and more data transmission this issue could be one of those unforeseen consequences of going digital.  Will faculty have to deal with students who say, “I could not access my digital course materials because I went over my data limit and I can’t afford to pay the fees?”

This leads to asking the question, what is the real cost for going digital?   Many schools have ‘free’ (nothing is really free- tuition is suppose to cover those costs) internet access and may not limit downloads.  But what if the student does not have access to internet at home or cannot afford broadband access to required educational content?  Are download rates higher as students move toward tablet devices like the iPad?  Will students need to subscribe to internet or broadband services so that they can read their assignments?  Will students without such access be at a disadvantage as digital course materials become the norm? 

We were recently asked, "What is the average data usage for student’s courses?"  Honestly, we do not know. If anyone has any data out there please share with us your findings.  Is it insignificant?  Will it become significant down the road? 

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