digital tophat

Survey: Students want more digital engagement on campus


New survey urges institutions to embrace students' mobile tech habits and create more engaging classroom environments

The increasing number of internet-ready devices flowing to college campuses gives institutions the opportunity to create more engaging and dynamic learning environments, according to a new survey.

More than half of surveyed students bring at least two of their own internet-connected devices with them to campus, according to the TopHat survey of more than 500 college students. Because students use technology for almost every aspect of their lives, universities should focus on offering access to engaging and interactive materials.

The survey shows that students want interactive digital course materials; 36 percent of students said they learn best from an interactive digital text, compared to only 19 percent who said they learn best from a static PDF course pack.

Next page: Are students willing to pay for digital texts?

Sixty-eight percent of students said they think quizzes should be embedded within digital course materials, and 62 percent said videos should be embedded.

Students are already using their mobile devices to enhance their classroom experiences–75 percent​ ​of​ ​surveyed students said they​ ​believe​ ​using​ ​personal​ ​devices​ ​in​ ​the​ ​classroom​ ​has​ ​improved​ ​their​ ​ability​ ​to learn​ ​and​ ​retain​ ​information. Eighty-one percent ​of​ ​students​ ​who​ ​are​ ​extremely​ ​satisfied​ ​with​ ​their​ ​higher​-education​ ​experience​ ​believe using​ ​their​ ​personal​ ​devices​ ​has​ ​helped​ ​them​ ​learn​ ​and​ ​retain​ ​information.

More than half of students (58 percent) have used their phones to take pictures of lecture slides; 41 percent have Googled answers to in-class questions; 39 percent have accessed a digital textbook via their phones; 34 percent have used their phones to answer in-class questions; and 24 percent have checked in to class using their phones.

When it comes to how students would be willing to use their phones in class, 60 percent would check in to class; 58 percent would answer in-class polls; 55 percent would access a digital textbook; 54 percent would access a professor’s slides; and 44 percent would take tests.

The cost of textbooks and course materials is always a troubling issue, but the survey reveals that students are willing to pay for a digital textbook. In fact, 81 percent are willing to pay up to $100 for a digital textbook.

Increased technology access also leads to increased access to professors and classmates–68 percent of students said they email questions to professors, and 35 percent said they would want to give their instructors feedback directly in the assigned digital text.

Laura Ascione