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Students Increasingly Value Tech Tools

6 Jan 2015 by Christine Kern

Today’s college students increasingly value tech tools — whether they’re online, social, or mobile applications — as essential to education. This was found in the annual survey of Vital Source Technologies, Inc., Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solution. The survey, fielded by Wakefield Research, an independent research consultancy, polled more than 500 currently enrolled college students.

“The results of this year’s survey point to the continued acceleration and adoption of technology in higher education. Students and teachers alike are embracing new ways of accessing information which lower costs and improve academic outcomes in both the physical and online classroom,” said Cindy Clarke, vice president of marketing for Vital Source Technologies.

The most helpful tech tools are interactive textbooks

According to the study, 62 percent of students use interactive textbooks including video, audio and quiz features. Another 44 percent use mobile learning tools such as courses using apps, social media or productivity tools. A third of respondents said they used flipped classrooms that included courses discussing video lectures that were assigned and watched prior to class time. And, 23 percent had used MOOCs — open online courses that allow for unlimited participation.

Students said the most helpful tech tools are interactive textbooks, which make lessons easier to understand (31 percent), help students complete assignments more quickly (23 percent) and help students stay more organized (21 percent).

Professors also weighed in on the benefits of interactive textbooks, with two-thirds of students reporting that their professors frequently recommend they purchase the e-text versions of textbooks and other course materials, up from only 52 percent in 2013.

A number of schools are integrating iPads into their curricula

Tablet technology has permanently changed the way people consume and create content. As a result, a number of notable schools are integrating iPads into their curricula. For example, University of Massachusetts Boston implemented an “iPads in the Classroom” program in 2012. The program installed iPads in participating classrooms for professors and students to use during lectures and for interactive activities.

Students are pushing for more digital learning opportunities

The survey also found an increased desire for more digital learning opportunities. As growth in online is driven by both students and faculty, students are pushing professors to offer more digital learning, and professors increasingly urge students to get more involved with the digital components of their assignments.

Further findings reveal the mutual push for greater online learning experiences:

  • 68 percent of students believed that the availability of online classes would be beneficial to their educational experience, compared to 59 percent in 2013.
  • 77 percent of students have taken at least one online course.
  • 42 percent of students said they perform better in online courses vs. in-person courses.

Use of social media is increasing in the classroom

Finally, the survey revealed that the use of social media is increasing in the classroom, raising a host of new considerations:

  • 65 percent of college students ages 18-23 believe social media will eventually be required in all classes.
  • 65 percent of survey participants said their Facebook accounts are not currently “class ready” due to questionable content.
  • 77 percent of students said a professor has used, or asked them to use, at least one social media site for a class. The most popular accounts are YouTube (57 percent) Facebook (42 percent) and Twitter (25 percent).

The findings validate students’ dependence on tech tools

According to the study, 45 percent of respondents stated they usually do not go more than 10 minutes without using some form of technology during an average school day.

“The findings validate students’ dependence on technology to increase their productivity and job prospects in this competitive, globally connected world, while also providing insight into market trends that will affect the next generation of educational technology.”

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