This 2003 article was penned by Dr. Teresa Redd, a member of Howard University’s English department, in the hopes of describing the successes and failures she has experienced using the Internet and other technological resources in her curriculum. She quotes several relevant studies, including a 2000 United Negro College Fund (UNCF) study showing that that average endowment at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is less than one-third the average for their white counterparts (who, are, at the surface, structured the same; that is to say, private, four-year, accredited colleges and/or Universities). Additionally, she notes that alumni giving only accounts for 6 percent of private, voluntary support, at HBCUs as opposed to 33 percent at their white counterparts, while the proportion of alumni who give money is almost equal at both schools.
Howard University holds an advantage over many of these schools – in 2003, when this article was published, their endowment stood at 312 million dollars (US), a figure that puts them far above the range of what the US Government considers the economic limits for HBCU status (as per the Higher Education Act of 1965). For this reason, Howard’s struggles are all the more stark. Howard invested 10 million dollars (US) into their technological infrastructure, allowing all students and faculty to have high-speed internet access, through public spaces, dormitories, and wireless signals. Despite this “theoretical access,” there are still many problems with the system – while most classrooms have internet jacks for students to plug in laptops into, the vast majority don’t own computers. By the same token, the wireless capability invested in by the University is similarly useless. Faculty computer ownership is minimal at best, and, while there are, again, “theoretically,” laptops for rental through the university for faculty, there are only two laptops owned by the university for rental – for more than 350 faculty members. There is additional relevant data within the article, but I have ommitted it here for length.
This article is relevant to my paper in that it demonstrates yet another approach to solving the "digital divide" between HBCUs and their traditionally white counterparts. Unfortunately, as the article shows, additional funding (in this case, through the endowment of the University) is not a catch-all, nor a perfect solution, as large gaps remain, even with a sizeable (and certainly, greater than the US federal government can give) influx of cash applied to the problem. Howard does, however, seem on the right path, primarily investing what funds they do have for computer and technology access towards students in the "hard sciences," rather than the liberal arts -- a choice that may allow them to compete for Bayh/Dole Act contracts in the future.
A 2000 study from the Journal of Black Studies (JBS), examining the conditions of software-based technology use by faculty at one (anonymous) mid-sized, southern Historically Black College and/or University (HBCU). The study also cites data from a study conducted by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in 2000. The NAFEO study, along with this one, reveals a notable gap between the technological resources available to students at HBCUs and those available to their historically-white counterparts. For specifics regarding the NAFEO's findings, please see my citation "Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Assessment of Networking and Connectivity"
The JBS study focuses primarily on the use of software applications by faculty, and how they are implemented by those professors into their curriculum. While basic computer competency skills, such as facility with the Windows operating system (90.3% of responders claimed to use it on a regular basis) and use of Microsoft Word (83% of responders), were relatively high, other software, such as Microsoft Excel (43.9% of responders), and PowerPoint (26.9% of responders), seem surprisingly low. In terms of web-based software, e-mail (87.8% of responders) and general internet use (80.5% of responders) were again high, but education-based software such as Blackboard (24.4% of responders) was minimal at best.
The study finds that this is, largely, an infrastructural and financial problem. Over 50% of the faculty members at the university were
working with computers that met just minimal standards, and, therefore, could not run all software applications available to them. In some cases, the technology itself was restricted -- the University had neglected to purchase a "campus-wide" license for the Blackboard software, and, as a result, not all faculty who desired to use it had access. It is telling that while only 24.4% of responders actually used Blackboard, 73.2% claimed to be familiar with and interested in using the software, if and when a functional license for it was granted to them. Another element that slowed the growth of technology at this school was that there was no full-time technology-development personnel on staff at the university to train faculty members software usage. As a result, the faculty members relied on "word-of-mouth" and each other's assistance to learn how to use new software.
(NOTE: Three years after the study was conducted, in 2003, a follow-up was performed. Data relevant to this shall appear in my paper, but has been omitted for length here.)
In terms of the relevance to my paper, having a specific case study, observing the statistics of a single school, is key to helping me focus my research and put it into real-life, applicable terms. The statistics support the evidence of a significant digital divide in terms of infrastructure, and, furthermore, the limitations regarding the faculty's use and familiarity with software and web-based applications, even when proper computing resources are available. I do have one or two concerns. The data that appears in this study was largely collected in 2000 -- because this data is eight years old, and the field of relevance (the development of technological resources on the campuses of HBCUs) is a rapidly changing one, I fear that the actual statistics today, in 2008, may be significantly different. Nevertheless, this journal article was published in 2006, and I have full confidence that, if these researchers found the data still relevant only two years ago, then the accuracy of it (or at least the disparity shown) has not depreciated much in the time that has elapsed.
This article covers a proposal by Morehouse College president Walter Massey that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) should attempt to raise funds for their own technological development by embracing their rights under the 1980 Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act (better known as the Bayh/Dole Act). This law allows the US federal government to engage in exclusive contracts with universities and non-profit businesses, for the purposes of developing and commercializing inventions created under the auspices of federally funded research. Universities may then gain a financial return on their discoveries by filing a claim of ownership. Massey desires that more of these contracts be granted to HBCUs, in the hopes that they can become independent, self-funding entities. He points to the example of Stanford University, and how the research developed there was instrumental to the creation of the Silicon Valley industry. Both US business and Stanford profited, and continue to profit, from that particular partnership. Massey admits that there are flaws in his plan -- primarily that the amount of time and initial financial investment required to see a return is out of the reach for many HBCUs. The administration at other HBCUs, and in particular, by Eric Sheppard, of Hampton University, have proposed a shared "pool" of technological resources, with Bayh/Dole-related profits split between the entities involved. This requires a smaller initial investment, and allows more research to be done over a shorter amount of time.
This is relevant to my paper in that it demonstrates two proposals for making HBCUs technologically competative, and, more importantly, self-reliant in terms of development and technology funding over a long-term period. While the plan itself requires federal (or privately granted) funding to begin, it moves beyond a system where these schools are reliant on outside sources of financial support to grow and evolve their technological needs.
Report from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), prepared for the US Department of Commerce. This study is, quite possibly, the largest and most comprehensive study to date on the use of technology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It is a clearinghouse of irrefutable statistics that demonstrate the digital divide between HBCUs and their white counterparts. An HBCU is dfined by the NAFEO as "[a] post-secondary institution founded prior to the the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the primary objective of educatiing blacks." This differs from the US Government definition, as found within the Higher Education Act of 1965. It is notable that the NAFEO study claims 118 HBCUs by this definition (as opposed to the estimated 80 schools that fall under the US Gov't definition).
80 HBCUs participated in the NAFEO study. All demonstrated at least some use of computers on their campus, but, it should be noted, for many schools, this was restricted to only institutionally-owned computers, found in public, time-restricted spaces (library, dorm lounge, etc.). 60 of the responding schools reported the lowest possible response to the survey in terms of student technology ownership, that of "less than 25%" of their students owning a personal computer. This means that 75%of students at these HBCUs only had access to public computers. Even at the remaining 20 schools, none reported higher than 49% of their students owning a computer.
50% of the dorms at HBCUs had some connection to the Internet; however, more than 50% of these were institutionally-owned computers, found in a public area, such as a lobby or lounge computer -- not a situation designed for studying. Furthermore, even when an internet connection was available, it was not particularly rapid -- 88% of responding schools stated that they used T-1 speed lines, or lower for internet connection. In comparison, the 2000 United States Census demonstrates that only 38% of black college students (at any and all schools of US-based schools of higher education) have a home computer, as opposed to 70% of white students. Of those 38%, only 40% have internet access. From a comparison of this data, it is clear that the technology gap between white students and black students overall deepens if those black students attend a HBCU.
(NOTE: For general use, educationally related or not, the disparity between white and black internet users is shocking; the Census shows that only 6% of the estimated 58 million internet users are black.)
This is relevant to my paper in that it shows a demonstrable gap between the computing resources available to students at HBCUs and those available to students at traditionally white institutions. This gap restricts access to information, as well as the means by which access is gained (public vs. private, etc.). This data is from 2000 -- eight years ago. As a result, I am a little wary of it. However, other studies as recent at 2006 continue to cite these statistics, so I trust that the greater academic community at large finds them to still be relevant (or, at the least, that the disparity demonstrated still remains in place).
This 2007 study focuses on the economic, social, and quality-of-life disparities between black students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and black students who attend Traditionally White Institutions (TWIs). Most important to my paper is the data regarding wage disparity between these groups of students. The study looks at two generations of students -- those who graduated in 1972, and those who graduated in 1997. By eliminating the variable of race, the study is able to look at the quantitative difference in the average earned wage between black students who attended both HBCUs and TWIs. It does not speculate as to why the disparity exists; only that it does.
According to the study, in 1972, a black graduate of a HBCU earned an average of 14.46 per hour, whereas a black graduate of a TWI earned only 11.38. By 1997, however, this wage disparity had reversed itself -- the average black student at a HBCU earned 7.68 an hour, whereas the average black student at a TWI earned 9.12 a hour. There are two main points here. First, and most obvious, is the clear reversal of fortunes. Almost as important, however, is that the earning potential for all black students fell, no matter what kind of institution they attended.
This study is relevant to my paper in that it clearly demonstrated a drop in wage-earning potential for students who attended HBCUs between 1972 and 1997, and that the drop was even more severe in contrast to black students who opted to attend TWIs. The greatest difference in campus culture and resources over those twenty-five years, across all institutions of higher learning, was the influx of technology and computing resources (both institutional and personal). Clearly, cooberated with the data from the other studies I have looked at, HBCUs have not been able to keep up with an appropriate technology influx, and this has hurt the learning (and earning) potential of their students. By not having access to the technological resources that their peers at TWIs enjoy, they not only fail to gain access to these resources, but become unattractive to employers who desire their employees to have extensive(or even, in some cases, any) facility and experience with computing facilities and resources.