Decoding student fees: Part six

In a digital age, technology is key. The use of technology can enhance the student experience, not just for students on campus, but for distance education as well.

The Technology Fee — $5 per credit for students registered in one or more credits with a maximum charge of $60.

The Technology Fee aims to fund the provision of up-to-date technology equipment, software, maintenance, training and support for student use, according to Andrea Miller of UAA Information Technology Services.

“The Technology Fee directly supports day-to-day functions of classes,” Miller said in an email. “It helps pay for technology services, such as Blackboard, computer labs, the Technical Support Center and Managed Print Stations, in addition to supporting innovative technology development at UAA.”

Blackboard, one of the most frequently used forms of technology at UAA, is an educational tool through which students can access class materials, communications from the university and submit homework or projects to their professors. Blackboard can be used to bring class materials and collaboration to students from all over Alaska.

The Blackboard app, another aspect of the main Blackboard tool, brings the same tools to students using mobile devices. 

Technology plays a large role in delivering material and coursework to students, but it also needs to evolve with the times, according to Miller.

The Technology Fee helps to maintain computer labs on campus, such as the UAA/APU Consortium Library lab. Photo by Jason Herr.
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“Technology in higher education is a swiftly changing field,” Miller said. “With regular advances in teaching and education technology, the Technology Fee maintains basic class and student technology and promoting technology innovations on campus, helping to keep UAA up-to-date with current tech.”

Students, staff and faculty are also involved in projects applied to the Technology Fee.

“In addition… the Technology Fee has been used in support of the Innovative Technology Solutions Fund,” Miller said. “This program funds proposals from both faculty, staff and student groups on campus to support innovative technology solutions that advance student success.”

The University Technology Council, or UTC, oversees the Technology Fee and has implemented the Innovative Technology Solutions Fund, or ITSF, to further provide students, faculty and staff the maximum possible benefits from projects approved by the council, according to the UTC website. 

The Technology Fee can be used to supplement funding for future ITSF projects.

One project for the Innovative Technology Solution Fund’s 2019-2020 year is to assist the UAA Robotics Club with developing a Robotics Innovation Lab. Photo courtesy of the UAA Robotics Club Website.

“We balance the spending of the fee between a mix of long-term operational expenses, while still leaving room for one-time expenses or supporting newer, experimental innovation,” the UTC website said. “While the long-term operational expenses are budgeted annually, the UTC implemented the ITSF as a way to sponsor and fund innovative ideas regarding technology that supports student success on the Anchorage campus on an annual basis.”

One project, in particular, is the wayfinding technology and app that debuted on campus in September of 2019. Blind or visually impaired students can use the Wayfinding app for audio directions to campus locations. The app uses Bluetooth iBeacons to guide students. The Wayfinding app is free to download from the app store. The project was proposed by UAA’s Office of Disability Support Services and supported by funds from the ITSF.

The beacons help to determine a student’s location and then give instructions on which direction the student needs to head in order to reach their desired destination. The app can also help students to be aware of obstacles on their route, such as stairs.

Students can also obtain certain software through UAA’s IT website or office, which can be found on its website. Programs include Java, Malwarebytes and Microsoft Office 365 Proplus. Software through IT Services is free for students and can be accessed with a current UA login.

A complete list of services offered by UAA Information Technology Services can be found on their website. The organization can be reached by phone at (907) 786-4646, their toll-free number at 1-877-633-3888 or by emailing [email protected].

The ITS offices are located in the Social Sciences Building room 120. Their hours are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

In the classroom or on the go, the Technology Fee aims to ensure that students keep up with the technology that supports their academic experience.

Read more about student fees in previous articles of The Northern Light:

Decoding student fees: Part one

Decoding student fees: Part two

Decoding student fees: Part three

Decoding student fees: Part four

Decoding student fees: Part five