Thursday, May 14, 2009

Looking back at freshmen tech use for 2008 class

We recently completed our annual student technology survey. The results are always interesting as we try and determine what technologies students are using and what new services we might want to consider. This year, we had over 800 responses of which 165 were from freshmen. I want to share what they thought and the decisons they made with regard to technology. Perhaps this will help the class of 2009.

Freshmen respondents lived on campus for the most part (82%). Over 99% of the freshmen owned a computer. Of these 89.7% had laptops. This is a big change from just a few years ago. We are seeing growth in number of MAC laptops (17), but PC laptops still hold the lions share (74%). Netbooks, those new super small and light wight intenet devices, are just making an an appearance with freshmen (1.2%). These "super lights" are pretty limited in storage and computing power, but they are very easy to carry around. As more applications and services are available through the internet, these new devices may grow in popularity.

If you are wondering which manufacturers students are purchasing from, the survey revealed that Dell (40%), HP (24%) and Apple (17%). Other computer makers represented less than 10% each. SU does not have a computer requirement and does not endorse one maker over another. We are seeing the trend towards toward laptops which serve as both work machines and multi-media entertainment computers. With wireless access all over the campus, this makes sense.

Cell phone ownership is ubiquitous with over 99% of freshmen surveyed owning a cell phone. Freshmen are most often using traditonal low cost cell phones (91%) over Smart phones like the iPhone or Blackerry (7.8% total). In additon to making calls they are texting (98%) and taking pictures (90%). We are watching mobile use closely. It is expected that univerities will need to be offering more and more services for the cell phone in the future.

One other interesting stat, the class of 2008 is using the internet as a core part of their classes. Over 94% of this year's freshmen use the campus web based learning management system to supplement their in class activities. Faculty and students have embraced the web as a virtual learning space.