Survey: Students more likely to do coursework on smartphone than desktop

Fifty-five percent of students say they use their phone for academic purposes.

Technologists weren’t kidding when they warned educators last year that it was time to prepare for the challenges of a multi-screen world.

A survey conducted by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) showed that college students are now more likely to do coursework on their smartphones than a desktop computer.

That students are no longer relying on antiquated desktops isn’t surprising. However, more than half of students using their phones to complete and submit homework and other class assignments signals a definitive shift in the way students use technology for school purposes, educators said.

“More than ever, students are using their smartphones to navigate their lives on campus,” said Elizabeth Riddle, consumer research manager for OnCampus Research, “and this even extends to their schoolwork.”

Students still use a laptop over a desktop or phone for school assignments, with 91 percent of respondents saying they complete coursework on laptops. Seven in 10 respondents said they owned a smartphone. More than 11,000 students on 19 campuses across the country participated in the NACS survey.

Nine in 10 respondents to Google’s 2012 survey-based research,  “The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior,” said they moved from one screen to another to accomplish a goal—from smart phones to PCs, for example, or tablet computers to PCs.

The prominence of what Google termed “sequential screening”—going from one screen to another to view a school admissions site, say—grabbed campus technology leaders’ attention this month as the best reason yet for schools to prioritize responsive web design (RWD) as a way of attracting prospective students.