That may not be the most surprising finding from a report released last week by the Educause Center for Applied Research, the analytical arm of the nonprofit group that promotes effective technology use in higher education. But it certainly provides a jumping-off point for an investigation into how students use information technology in college and how it can be harnessed to improve the learning experience.
In at least one central respect, proponents of technology in the classroom are on to something: Most students (60.9 percent) believe it improves their learning.
The changes in technological habits aren’t revolutionary per se, as the authors point out; rather, students are making “evolutionary” gains in access to the Internet for everyday uses, inside the classroom and out. Perhaps the most visible of these changes is the continuing increase in the proportion of students with laptops, which has grown to 73.7 percent of respondents (while an almost-total 98.4 percent own a computer of some kind). More surprisingly, over half of laptop owners don’t bring them to class at all, with about a quarter carrying them to lectures at least once a week.