Institutional Challenges: Resources

Depending on the university, some students need more support with technology. Some students still do not own personal laptops and rely on school computer labs for their assignments, for example. Other students may be using personal computing devices that are not equipped with what they need to do data journalism. Students who use a tablet (such as an iPad) as their primary tool will face barriers.

Meredith Broussard, who taught data journalism at Temple University until 2015, said that ensuring that her students had the equipment they needed for her class was a major priority. Many of her students relied on a tablet, which meant equipping computer labs with the necessary equipment and platforms—or even lending laptops to students for the term.

Brant Houston of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign also pointed to the availability of resources as an important issue — especially for universities that draw students from economically disadvantaged populations.

Journalism schools can help these students by investing in up-to-date lab equipment and by working to create an environment that makes it easy for students to access needed software and to install it on their own devices. Journalism school administrators should consider more frequent audits and surveys of professors to identify which software will be most useful for their students.

And for students who are working on their own personal laptops, some professors hold provisioning sessions to help students install the needed software at the beginning of the term.

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