Thursday, October 18, 2012

The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2012

The report of the 2012 study of (United States) students' use of technology was published recently. The ECAR (EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research) study has been carried out since 2004. This year they had responses from 106,000 students from 195 institutions and from these ECAR selected a stratified sample (using various demographics) of 10,000 students, and most of the results are based on that subset of responses. Obviously the main focus is on use and preferences in using technology, but it is also worth noting that the communication mode that students wanted more of, most, was face-to-face communication. More communication via Learning Management Systems (or Virtual Learning Environments as we say in the UK), email and text messaging came next after that. Communication modes where the number of people wanting less of it outnumbered the number wanting more included Facebook and Twitter. Nearly 60% preferred keeping academic and social lives separate.

The top 4 things that students wished that teachers used more were: Open Educational Resources; Simulations or educational games; Learning Management Systems and e-books. It seemed to me unlikely that everyone would know what OERs were, but when I checked the questionnaire, in fact that item was phrased as "Freely available course content beyond your campus (OpenCourseWare, Khan Academy, etc.)".

There was a majority agreeing that technology was important to achieve success in their studies and their future jobs. The top technology valued was the Learning management System, followed by the Library Website. A larger number of students (than in the last study) felt that their teachers were using technology effectively.

There is more on this and other questions in the full report, available at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn colour, October 2012

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