Students and Technology in 2011

Each year, Educause completes a study of technology use in higher education. The 2011 ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology…

…sheds lights on how information technology affects the college experience. ECAR has conducted this annual study since 2004, and though students’ ownership and utilization of technology changes from year to year, students consistently rely upon their instructors and institutions to meet their technology expectations and needs. The 2011 study differs from past studies in that the questionnaire was reengineered and responses were gathered from a nationally representative sample of 3,000 students in 1,179 colleges and universities.

While complete details about the study are available, here is a nice infographic that summarizes the key findings:


Here is a listing of the key findings displayed in the infographic above:


  • 43% of students agree their institution needs more technology
  • Only 1 in 4 (22%) of students strongly agree their institution uses the technology it has effectively
  • Only 1 in 5 (19%) strongly agree technology is integrated seamlessly into their courses
  • More than 1 in 7 (15%) of students think technology breaks or is broken more often than it is used in the classroom.
  • Students like basic online services at their institutions, with the following percentage of students saying their institution does an excellent of good job at these online services:
    • Course registration: 86%
    • Making grades available: 81%
    • Offering library resources: 75%
    • Making transcripts available: 70%
    • Making financial aid information available: 70%
    • Offering textbooks for sale: 53%
  • Students say they learn more in blended learning environments:
    • No online components: 20%
    • Some online components: 58%
    • Completely online: 9%


  • Sudents value the technologies instructors use, and use effectively! Percentage of students responding “extremely effectively” among instructors who use:
    • Projector: 65%
    • Wi-Fi: 59%
    • Laptop computer: 58%
    • Desktop computer: 57%
    • Document camera: 56%
    • Gaming device: 55%
    • Printer: 54%
    • HDTV: 53%
    • Thumb drive: 52%
    • Digital SLR camera: 50%
  • About 1 in 3 students (31%)think the instructor often requires the help of others to get technology up and running successfully
  • More than 1 in 2 students (51%) think they know more about how to use technology than their professors
  • 39% of students wish their instructors used e-mail more often
  • About 1 in 3 students (31%) wish their instructors used e-books or e-textbooks more often
  • 32% of students wish their instructors used a course or learning management system more often


  • Applications most frequently used by students:
    • Word processors: 96%
    • Institution library website: 88%
    • Presentation software: 85%
    • Spreadsheets: 83%
    • Course or learning management system: 73%
    • E-books or e-textbooks: 57%
    • Programming languages: 33%
    • E-portfolios: 21%
  • Almost all students use e-mail (99%), text messaging (93%) and Facebook (90%)
  • Communication tools most frequently used (several times a day):
    • E-mail: 75%
    • Texting: 74%
    • Facebook: 58%


  • Technology ownership: A majority of undergraduates own about a dozen devices:
    • iPad: 8%
    • Netbook: 11%
    • eReader: 12%
    • Handheld games: 38%
    • Desktop computer: 53%
    • Webcam: 55%
    • Smart phone: 55%
    • HDTV: 56%
    • iPod: 62%
    • Stationary games: 66%
    • Thumb drive: 70%
    • DVD player: 75%
    • Printer: 81%
    • Laptop computer: 87%
  • Essential technology: Percentage of students who said these technologies are “extremely valuable” for academic success:
    • Desktop computer: 57%
    • Thumb drive: 64%
    • Printer: 73%
    • Wi-Fi: 78%
    • Laptop computer: 81%
  • 37% of students have used smartphones for academics in the past year
  • How smartphone owners use their devices for academics:
    • E-mailing professors: 66%
    • Checking grades: 62%
    • Texting other students about coursework: 61%
    • Looking up information on the Internet in class: 45%
    • Texting professors: 19%

NCES Releases Elementary/Secondary Information System

ELSi ScreenShotNCES has just released a new web application, the Elementary/Secondary Information System (ELSi). ELSi is comprised of three separate tools, which allow users to quickly view public and private school data, view commonly requested tables and create custom tables and charts using data from the Common Core of Data (CCD) and Private School Survey (PSS). ELSi utilizes frequently requested variables and tables—it’s a fast, easy way to obtain basic statistical data on U.S. schools. ELSi gives the user the ability to create customized tables by choosing row variables, column variables and filters to refine the data.

To view this new tool, visit:

This web application is a product of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

Growth of Online Learning in Higher Ed

As Allen and Seamen (2008) note, online education has continued to experience steady and sustained growth and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. I’ve personally found through my own experience that in these particularly challenging times for higher education, institutions are increasingly looking to online education as one way to not increase revenue but also expand course offerings. Allen and Seamen’s findings support the common approach among higher education institutions today to strategically implement online learning in overall programmatic development efforts.

Not only are institutions embracing online education today, but students are also flocking to online modes of learning in record numbers. As noted, over one-fifth of all higher education students are now taking at least one online course (Allen & Seamen, 2008). A primary reason why online education may be so popular especially among adult, non-traditional learners is the flexibility that it affords. The learner can continue his or her education while still continuing a career and maintaining other personal commitments.

What other factors do you suspect may be contributing to the steady growth of online education in higher education? Post a comment with your thoughts!


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the course: Online education in the United States, 2008. Needham, MA: Sloan-C. Retrieved June 17, 2009, from