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Wired Undergraduates

October 2, 2007

More than 98 percent of undergraduates own a personal computer, according to an annual report recently released by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. "The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007," reports that nearly three quarters of students currently own a personal laptop, an increase from last year. Fifty-eight percent of students own a personal desktop computer.  The results indicate that students increasingly favor mobile computers over desktops, despite the fact that fewer than half of students actually carry a computer into the classroom. 

Laptops are only one of the high-tech portable devices that students increasingly acquire. The percentage of students owning cell phones with Internet access has risen to10.1 percent, up from 1.2 percent in 2005. Similarly, the proportion of respondents owning electronic music/video devices, such as iPods, has risen to nearly 75 percent, up from 37 percent in 2005. Personal digital assistants, on the other hand, have actually decreased in use over the same time period, from 12.1 percent in 2005 to 10.4 percent currently. 

Undergraduates spend an average of about 18 hours per week online; 6 percent of respondents said they spend more than 40 hours per week online. Eighty-three percent of undergraduates reported having used an online course management system, such as ANGEL, WebCT, Blackboard, and the like--an increase from the 2005 survey. Popular non-academic online activities include social networking, with sites, such as Facebook and MySpace being used by more than 80 percent of respondents--up from 72 percent last year. The table that follows provides data on several other popular computer and Internet activities frequently used by students.

Fifty-six percent of respondents reported convenience as the most valuable benefit of the use of IT in their courses, followed by approximately 20 percent who selected course-management activities.  While 61 percent of respondents agreed that the use of IT in their courses improved their learning, only 10 percent selected "improved my learning" as the most valuable benefit of IT.

To view the key findings as well as the full report, visit the EDUCAUSE Web site.  For more research reports on technology and distance education, visit the Research Web pages on the NACUBO Web site.