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Spotlight: ECAR student study on technology use

The 2010 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology in its seventh iteration shares the responses on existing and emerging technologies of 36,950 students from 127 doctoral (56.3%), master’s (22.3%), baccalaureate (8%), associate’s (11.5%), and other institutions. Some of the questions posed assessed skill level with various technologies, ownership of Internet-capable handheld devices, preference on how the students liked to learn, reasons for use of social networking sites, collaboration using web-based tools, and more.

  • Eighty-nine percent of the students reported owning a laptop or netbook, with 99 percent reporting owning a computer. The latter is up from 93 percent in 2004.
  • About 63 percent of the students reported owning a handheld device, and more than 11 percent intend to purchase one within the year.
  • Students reported spending an average of 21.2  hours per week in online activities that are school- and nonschool-related.

Students reported using technology for:

  • Navigating the college/university library website (94%)
  • Presentation software (93%)
  • Text messaging (92%)
  • Use of the university’s course management system (90%)

Fifty-two percent reported using social networking to communicate with classmates.

Students perceive themselves as effective and efficient at using the Internet to search for information; yet they are reportedly less adept at evaluating the reliability and credibility of online information.

Approximately 50 percent of the students believed that their learning and engagement in class is enhanced by the use of information technology, and 47 percent report that faculty use IT effectively in their courses.

The full report is available online.

(Source: Shannon D. Smith and Judith Borreson Caruso, with an introduction by Joshua Kim. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010 (Research Study, Vol. 6). Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, 2010, available from www.educause.edu/ecar.)