The Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) recently published the 2007 study on undergraduate use of technology. This report looks at student ownership of technology, along with student use and skill with information technology. Students were also asked questions about the implications of technology on their studies and access to content.

There are several findings discussed in the report with implications for librarians working with teens. They include:

  • Ownership of portable technology continues to grow. In 2005, 52.8% of students surveyed owned a laptop. In 2007, that number increased to 75.8%. An even bigger increase is seen in ownership of portable media devices (iPods for example.) In 2005, just 30.7% or students surveyed owned this kind of device. In 2007, the percentage was 74.7. It’s important to note that these are students from a variety of backgrounds and walks-of-life. Students from a variety of socio-economic groups bring to their undergraduate program portable devices.
  • The report states that a majority of students use technology as a communications tool, particularly IM and email. However the report also found that high percentages of the students surveyed (94.7%) use an institutional library as a resource.
  • While not many students used podcasts regularly, those who took courses in which podcasts were a part of the learning rated these additions to their courses highly. The report notes that students stated that instructors that used podcasts as a way to supplement and expand on learning found these to be very useful to their studies. This positive attitude is perhaps a demonstration of teen familiarity, interest, and use of online video and audio. (For example, YouTube, iTunes like services, etc.) This statistic perhaps helps demonstrate that students are interested in having access to multimedia content that supports their learning.
  • The report authors write, “Interestingly, a solid half (53.3%) like to learn through programs they can control such as simulations or video games.” The authors go on to note that this is important data to consider as more and more institutions think about adding $ for resources that help students learn via games and simulations. It will be interesting to see how, and if, this number grows over the next year to two years.
  • Students stated that they prefer to use social networking tools as a part of their social lives and not as a part of their coursework. Looking at the findings it seems that this is because, understandably, students want to keep their private lives private from instructors and advisors. What does this say about libraries connecting to students via these formats? Does it mean it’s not a good idea or does it mean that libraries need to realize that these connections have to walk a thin line between intrusion and information? Is it different to connect to students with social networking technologies in a library context than in an instructor/advisor context?

The above bullet points are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the data in the report that is of use to librarians serving teens. Of course early college students are still teens, but, even more importantly, the data about these undergraduate students can inform about the activities, interests, and preferred ways of using technology and accessing information of younger teens as well. If undergraduate students arrive at college with technology knowledge, skills, expectations, and hardware/software, that means that these students need to get support for each of these before they arrive at an institution of higher ed. The public and school library are definitely places to support teens and their technology expectations and uses before they get to college.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

One Thought on “College Student Technology Ownership

  1. We are just wrapping up a study with our Lab Members and I am amazed how many of them have access to technology. 100% have access to high speed Internet, 75% have their own computers. Our membership includes teenagers so it dips down a bit in age. What I notice most about our Members is that they are able to imagine how technology can work together to help them learn, communicate and share ideas. I am very excited about what this emerging group of young people will create!

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