The use of devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones is pervasive. According to the 2012 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, a full 86 percent of college students own a laptop, with smartphone ownership topping 60 percent. Clearly, there is need for these devices, and colleges increasingly are providing the infrastructure to make them as useful as possible.
ECAR has surveyed undergraduate students annually since 2004 about technology in higher education. In 2012, ECAR collaborated with 195 institutions to collect responses from more than 100,000 students about their technology experiences. The findings are distilled into the broad thematic message for institutions and educators to balance strategic innovation with solid delivery of basic institutional services and pedagogical practices and to know students well enough to understand which innovations they value the most. These are key findings and ECAR recommendations:
See the 2012 report for a full list key messages, findings, and supporting data.
- Blended-learning environments are the norm; students say that these environments best support how they learn.
- Students want to access academic progress information and course material via their mobile devices, and institutions deliver.
- Technology training and skill development for students is more important than new, more, or “better” technology.
- Students use social networks for interacting with friends more than for academic communication.
See the 2012 report for a full list of actionable results.
- Look to emerging or established leaders (other institutions, other countries, other industries) for strategies to deliver instruction and curricular content to tablets and smartphones. Learn from their exemplary strategies for IT support and security with student devices as well as planning, funding, deploying, and managing instructional technologies, services, and support.
- Prioritize the development of mobile-friendly resources and activities that students say are important: access to course websites and syllabi, course and learning management systems, and academic progress reports (i.e., grades).
- Bridge the gap between the technologies that have seen the greatest growth (e-portfolios, e-books/e-textbooks, and web-based citation/bibliographic tools) and students’ attitudes about their importance. Focus training/skill-building opportunities for students, professional development opportunities for faculty, and support service opportunities on these emerging technologies.
- Use e-mail and the course and learning management system for formal communication with students. Experiment with text messaging and instant messaging/online chatting, and don’t focus efforts on using social networks and telephone conversations to interact with students.