While the majority of students said they were adequately prepared to use the technology needed in their courses, one-third of students are unprepared for the technological requirements of college according to a new study from the Educase Center for Applied Research.
The study, which surveyed 106,575 college students, found that the percentage of students who have taken a completely online course grew 107% from 15% in 2011 to 31% in 2012. The study finds that, along with the rapid growth of online learning, there is a massive increase in the use of digital textbooks.
In 2010, only 24% of students reported using digital or e-textbooks. Today the percentage has grown to 70% and 47% of students want to see more digital textbooks in their classroom. The survey also predicts that large scale adoption of digital textbooks is, at most, one-year away.
Over half, 55%, of survey participants said that they wanted to see an expansion of game-based learning because they encourage collaboration, problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and the development of digital literacy. This is because, as the survey cautions, game-based learning requires a set of technical skills from faculty and students that are “beyond those typically expected for general course preparation.” The assessments of the skills and development needs for students and faculty may hold back the wide spread adoption of game-based learning for up to four years.
The study also tracked device usage and found that 66% of students consider it important to be able to access course websites and syllabi from a mobile device. Additionally, 64% of students believe that a college’s course or learning management system should be optimized for mobile devices.
Despite the phenomenal growth of smart phones amongst college students, up 5,545% since 2007, the study found that “most institutions have no discernible mobile deployment strategy.” Of the institutions that do have a mobile strategy 24% are either adopting or developing applications that can run on multiple mobile platforms and 8% are either adopting or developing apps for specific mobile platforms.
While developing or adopting device neutral apps, ones that can be used on various mobile platforms, seems like a simple solution for colleges, students find apps that have been created specifically for their preferred mobile platform faster and easier to use.
According to the study, only 25% of surveyed students said that “cutting-edge technology” was important whereas 50% of said up-to-date technology was important. Students considered “cutting-edge” to be smart boards, recorded lectures, and digital course materials which led the authors to conclude that “‘new, cutting-edge’ technology for undergraduate students is really less about innovation and more about more or better use of existing technologies.”
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