Over the course of the past 18 months, the CSU helped bridge the equity divide by increasing access to critical technology to ensure student success in a virtual learning environment. The CSU is offering the majority of instruction in person this fall term, but a significant increase in courses are offered virtually, because of ongoing risks and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and student-stated preferences.
In July 2021, the CSU announced the launch of the first phase of the California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success (CSUCCESS) initiative, a bold effort to enhance student achievement and create more equitable opportunities for the CSU community by providing industry-leading technology. CSUCCESS provides students with tools to participate and succeed in a virtual learning environment. Eight campuses are participating in the initial phase this fall 2021 and offered a free iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio to all incoming first-year and new transfer students who registered to participate in the initiative. Students will have this iPad bundle for the entirety of their undergraduate experience at the CSU. The new CSUCCESS initiative builds on previous efforts to address the issue at scale by partnering with a global technology leader at the university-wide level to provide a high-quality, reliable device for new students.
Next steps in bridging the equity divide through technology could include several approaches. The CSUCCESS initiative could be rolled out to additional campuses and students beginning in fall 2022. Also, information technology capabilities could be expanded so that the educational experiences, lessons learned and opportunities identified during the pandemic can be optimized now and in the future for course delivery. Another component of the request could be informational technology infrastructure that increases research opportunities and access to advanced cyberinfrastructure.
This $75 million recurring request is an important component in the CSU’s efforts to recover from the pandemic and improve student success while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps as part of Graduation Initiative 2025.