Technology is ubiquitous in our learning and work environment. It is good to take a pause and assess how our students access and use technology to enhance their learning experience. Our Chief Information Officer, Kirk Kelly, recently shared with the President’s Executive Committee and the Academic Leadership Team survey results of PSU student technology use.
In this guest blog, Kirk shares the results in order for us to be responsive and better understand student behavior and needs.
In 2016, PSU participated in the national Educause student technology survey. Our student participation was strong and the results are illuminating. The feedback has helped us identify our strengths and areas of potential growth for the future. While the amount of data (and free-form feedback) was copious, we narrowed it down to five primary themes.
A summary of our key findings is as follows:
PSU is demographically different than many other schools. Our student body is older and more often first-time college students. When compared with other institutions, we have a higher proportion of students with disabilities. These differences are reflected in our students taking school more seriously, such as being less distracted in class and less likely to skip class.
Technology is no longer just a tool. It plays an integral part in encouraging learning and interaction among classmates and professors. If we want to improve students’ learning experiences, we must focus on integrating more technology into instruction.
Mobile computing is here to stay as a primary technology. Nearly all (96.6%) students have smartphones, and most want to use them for school; even laptop ownership is nearly ubiquitous (93.5%). We must invest in our wireless infrastructure and mobile strategy to continue providing connectivity for our wireless student body.
PSU students want more relevant content that is easier to find. They prefer free, electronic content, but do not want to integrate social media with classroom learning.PSU students learn most in classes with some online components. These include online modules, and supplemental lectures and videos, self-testing opportunities. Hybridized classes and recorded lectures give students the flexibility to review content. This presents additional learning opportunities while also providing the essential benefits of an in-class experience.
We will repeat the student survey again next year, as well as participate in the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) faculty technology survey in the spring. With the addition of this new survey, we hope to better understand what PSU faculty think about our technology and identify some trends that align with students’ feedback as well. This should, in turn, help us understand where we are excelling (the reports compare PSU responses with the national average), where we can best focus our support, and help predict what PSU technology needs will be in the future. For a quick look at the data, see the 2016 Student Technology Survey Infographic. More information can be found on the PSU OIT website.