Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications (304) 696-7153

‘Tech Up’ program helps nontraditional students with technology concerns

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – When Karen Riffle returned to Marshall University in 2012 as a nontraditional student after 30 years away from the college environment, she quickly discovered a big technology gap between herself and traditional students.

She could have used the new “Tech Up” program being offered at Marshall.

“Tech Up,” which debuts next month, has one purpose—to help nontraditional students succeed at Marshall by being technologically up to speed by the time they take their first course.

Riffle, a Mineral Wells native, said she expected to face what she called the daunting task of “catching up” with traditional students where technology was concerned. And she did.

What surprised her most, however, was the learning style of the current traditional students and the extent to which they rely on technology. Because of the requirements of one class, she said she found it necessary to become immediately familiar with MUOnline, which uses systems from Blackboard, a global technology company.

Riffle was fortunate because the class proved to be a great help in overcoming the initial obstacles she faced. However, she believes there are many nontraditional students today facing the same challenges with technology. Many of them simply have never had a need to use technology. Many of them are overwhelmed and frustrated.

In a letter last February to Steve Hensley, Marshall’s dean of student affairs, Riffle shared her experience and suggested a program be developed to help nontraditional students who are not tech savvy. That’s the goal of “Tech Up.”

Hensley said, “We have found that many of our students, particularly those students who have been out of school for a few years, are not as tech savvy as they would like to be. This new program will help these students discover the essential technology students use at Marshall.”

Riffle added, “In developing a program to assist nontraditional students in acclimating to Marshall, Marshall will receive the reward of greater retention and enrollment rates among the nontraditional student body.”

In her letter to Hensley, Riffle said not a day passes that she does not use Blackboard for one or more of the following purposes:

The university’s IT (Information Technology) personnel will conduct the “Tech Up” sessions, which are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, and from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, in Drinko Library rooms 138 and 349. To reserve a space, students may call the Office of Student Affairs at 304-696-6422 or e-mail

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197