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A Conceptual Model for Measuring Technology Capacity in American Higher Education: An Exploratory Analysis Open Access

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Abstract of the DissertationA Conceptual Model for Measuring Technology Capacity in American Higher Education:An Exploratory AnalysisThe ubiquity of technology in our daily lives sometimes obscures the fact that there are segments of American society who continue to experience a digital divide. The focus of this quantitative study was to explore a measurement instrument that can assess technology capacities among higher education institutions; thus, helping detect whether digital divides are present in this unit of analysis. A conceptual model of technology capacity based upon Barzilai-Nahon's (2006) digital divide index served as the theoretical foundation for this research. Employing confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses, this study found that the ability to access technology along with the student experience with technology were the two factors that best defined technology capacity for an institution. Additionally, this study recognized that institutional characteristics such as institution location, size, Carnegie classification, and sector influence differences in institutional technology capacities. The research found the technology capacities of rural institutions trailed the technology capacities of institutions located in cities, suburbs, or towns. It was also found that institutions with more than 20,000 students and doctoral institutions far exceeded the capacities of smaller institutions and those of other Carnegie classifications. One challenge of this study was the available data sets originally gathered in 2008 and 2009 by EDUCAUSE. The results garnered from these data sets revealed there was a digital divide within higher education. However, with the speed of change in the technology landscape, further research is needed to determine whether these divides persist today. The validated instrument developed by this study will make future and repeated measures of technology capacity attainable for researchers.

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