For undergrads, the printer still ranks as one of the most important pieces of technology

undergrads-education-technologyIt’s not every day, after scouring headlines from dozens of news sources, that news—especially education technology news—can surprise a seasoned education writer; but in recent research provided by EDUCAUSE, as well as a spiffy new infographic, many details on how undergraduate students are using ed-tech are fascinating…in that they’re not always as ‘cutting-edge’ as some may think.

The data used to create this composite comes from the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research annual report of undergrad students and technology. Over 195 institutions and over 100,000 students participated in the survey in 2012. The findings are based on a “stratified random sample” of 10,000 undergrads from that population selected to match the most recent IPEDS profile of U.S. undergrads.

The data, and subsequent infographic, are meant to answer critical questions.

“When it comes to [undergrad] college students, technology is not only a critical part of learning, it’s an essential tool for communication and a means of engagement,” said EDUCAUSE. “Which technology is most important to students, and how does it help their academic experience and achievement?”

And though many of the facts presented by EDUCAUSE do reinforce the idea that ed-tech is essential to undergrad students, it’s not always the technology, or the use of that technology by undergrads, that you might expect.

(Next page: 8 surprising undergrads and tech facts)

1. Laptops (85 percent) and printers (84 percent) are practically tied for “devices most important to academic success.” The next most important device is a USB drive (68 percent), then a desktop computer (65 percent), followed by tablets (45 percent), smartphones (37 percent), and eReaders (31 percent).

2. When it comes to brands, Windows beats Apple by a long shot. 86 percent of students own a laptop, and 76 percent of those are Windows-based, versus 21 percent for Apple.

3. Although students think tablets are good tools for sourcing information and communicating, they agree that they’re awkward tools for producing academic work.

4. Websites they can’t live without? No, it’s not YouTube. Google and Blackboard top students’ lists of websites “they can’t live without.”

5. Undergrads don’t just use technology to communicate with other students. In fact, 67 percent said tech helps them feel connected to “what’s going on at the institution,” versus the 58 percent who said “other students.”

6. 74 percent of students have taken at least one course that includes online components. It’s also interesting to note that only 16 percent of students skip classes when course lectures are available online.

7. Facebook is so 2013. The greatest changes in forms of communication students use for academic purposes is social studying sites (+26 percent), versus the -7 percent for Facebook. LinkedIn has risen by 21 percent, followed by +18 percent for Twitter.

8. Students still crave human interaction. 53 percent of undergrads wished their instructors communicated more using face-to-face interactions, which is tied with the same amount wanting course or learning management systems. Next came eMail (45 percent), then text messaging (43 percent).

(Next page: Infographic)

Undergraduate Students & Technology
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