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2011 ECAR Report: Students and Technology in Higher Education

By Melissa Venable

“EDUCAUSE, a non-profit association focused on the use of information technology in higher education, annually surveys college students about their use of technology. The ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2011 report was presented at the EDUCAUSE annual conference* yesterday. While I wasn’t able to attend in person, I was able to watch the session online. (You can also view the recorded presentation.)”


5 Key Findings

1) Students are interested in “hot technologies” but rely on, or own, more traditional devices.

2) Students recognize that the use of technology can be beneficial to their academic success.

3) There is an uneven student perception of technology use by instructors and institutions.

4) Students are balancing both personal and academic uses of technology.

5) The students surveyed were almost exclusively from traditional two and four year schools, but there was an overall preference (72%) for classes with online components.


One of the changes in this year’s report was the focus on actionable results. What should those making decisions about technology at individual institutions do with this feedback from students? EDUCAUSE recommends the following:

  • Investigate students’ needs, opinions, preferences and interests locally, and also develop a plan to move forward with technology that takes student feedback into consideration.
  • Provide professional development opportunities and incentives for instructors to learn more about how technologies can be used effectively to enhance student learning and engagement.
  • Create opportunities for students to become involved in plans for future technologies. Review current policies and find ways to bring students into the discussions before decisions are made.
  • Meet student expectations for Wi-fi access. More relevant for the campus setting, but interesting that online access is in such demand for students that are considered traditional.
  • Commit to moving content into digital formats. Future students will have always had access to digital resources. It’s important to begin preparing for these students now.
  • Help students become proficient with the basic software and applications they will need to know in order to be successful in their courses. When required to use specific tools in a course assignment, there is often a need for supplemental training and support.
  • Find effective ways to use the technologies that students find valuable.
  • Look for ways to effectively innovate and transform the learning experience with technology. Collaborative approaches, participatory interactions, and tools that move learning outside the physical classroom are encouraged.
  • Consider ways in which students can be given more flexibility and options for the use of technology to interact with each other and their instructors.
  • Create blended or hybrid learning opportunities to meet the needs and preferences of different groups of students, types of courses, and course content areas.
  • Review existing institutional policies about the use of social media and revise to include use in an academic context.”

Read or download the report here: [35 page PDF]



Posted on: October 26, 2011, 7:31 am Category: Uncategorized

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