ECAR collaborated with 157 institutions to collect responses from 13,451 faculty respondents across 7 countries about their technology experiences. ECAR also collaborated with 124 institutions to collect responses from 43,559 undergraduate students across 10 countries about their technology experiences. Please see the 2017 student and faculty studies hub for more about this year’s research.
When it comes to meeting technological support needs, students’ default modality is DIY. Students are more than twice as likely to figure out solutions to technology problems on their own, to search online sources, or to ask a friend than they are to use their campus help desk. Contacting the vendor or company to fix a technology problem is the last resort.
Laptops are king, smartphones are queen, and tablets are on the way out.
Students’ experiences with their instructors’ use of and approach to technology in the classroom are a mixed bag. A majority of students said most of their instructors have adequate technology skills, use technology to enhance learning, and encourage the use of collaborative technology tools. However, students said fewer faculty use technology for sophisticated learning tasks (e.g., engagement, creative and critical thinking), and relatively few faculty ask students to use their own devices for in-class work.
Students are choosing sides in the online versus face-to-face debate. For the fourth year in a row, the number of students preferring a blended learning environment that includes some to mostly online components has increased. The number of students preferring completely face-to-face or completely online courses continues to dwindle. The number of students expressing no preference has been cut by more than half since 2014.
Students are satisfied with features of their LMS…except when they aren’t.Students have favorable opinions about the basic features and functionalities of their LMS. But, the more sophisticated the task and the more engagement required of students, the less happy they tend to be. This may be a function of the tools, the instructors who use them, or both.
Students would like their instructors to use more technology in their classes.Technologies that provide students with something (e.g., lecture capture, early-alert systems, LMS, search tools) are more desired than those that require students to give something (e.g., social media, use of their own devices, in-class polling tools). We speculate that sound pedagogy and technology use tied to specific learning outcomes and goals may improve the desirability of the latter.
Students reported that faculty are banning or discouraging the use of laptops, tablets, and (especially) smartphones more often than in previous years. Some students reported using their devices (especially their smartphones) for nonclass activities, which might explain the instructor policies they are experiencing. However, they also reported using their devices for productive classroom activities (e.g., taking notes, researching additional sources of information, and instructor-directed activities).