Survey: Here’s why technology matters to college students


Students break down what aspects of technology are most useful to them in the classroom in a new survey.

survey-technology-studentAccording to the results of a new survey from VitalSource Technologies, college students overwhelmingly agree that technology boosts grades, improves their overall learning experience and alleviates costs.

In the fifth annual survey of its kind, 500 currently enrolled college students were polled in order to gauge how much importance they place on the growing role of technology in higher education classrooms.

“Technology continues to be of critical importance to students, especially in the classroom,” said Cindy Clarke, vice president of Marketing for Vital Source Technologies, Inc. “The research validates the degree to which students depend on technology to provide them with a competitive edge while they are in school, and after graduation as they prepare to enter a workforce which is increasingly digitally literate and globally connected.”

The survey largely found that students, as well as their teachers, are increasingly adopting digital solutions to improve learning outcomes. Greater access to technology and digital course materials allows for greater interaction with content, peers and instructors, all of which play a huge role in helping students stay engaged and excited about their studies.

In fact, 74 percent of students agreed they could get even better grades if their teachers used more technology in the classroom.

(Next page: Students identify how technology helps them save time and money)

Students identified numerous ways that technology can improve their learning experience: 61 percent of students said that the opportunity for more interactivity, such as homework containing video elements or the ability to exchange instant feedback with professors, would improve learning. Moreover, 55 percent of students said digital learning and having teachers follow their progress in real-time personalizes their learning experience and would be useful. Finally, 48 percent of students said their learning would be enhanced by technology that helps them collaborate digitally with students from their class or even from other schools.

Startlingly, 81 percent of students agreed that over the next 10 years, fewer students will go to college because it is simply too expensive. However, technology is identified as being a major factor in helping to address the rising cost of attending college. For example, according to the survey, 34 percent of college students feel the greatest benefit of using digital textbooks is that they are more affordable than their paper counterparts. Additionally, 31 percent of students said digital textbooks are more convenient to have, with another 20 percent thinking they are more engaging and interactive.

In a display of just how ever-present technology is rapidly becoming, 44 percent of students said they don’t go more than 10 minutes without using some form of technology on a typical school day. Additionally, 78 percent of students use devices to read digital course materials frequently, up from only 48 percent in 2011. Laptop, smartphone and tablet ownership have all increased from 2014, now up to 91 percent, 90 percent, and 50 percent respectively.

Student participation is seemingly enhanced by technology as well: 56 percent of students said they would feel more comfortable participating in a class digitally than in-person.

Students are also becoming increasingly open to taking online courses, and this is proving successful for them: 51 percent of students said they got better grades in their online courses compared to their in-person classes, up from 42 percent only last year.