In relation to NMC students, what technology is important and what about technology is important? How do our students compare to national data? During fall semester 2016, we surveyed NMC students about their technology use and recently, national data was released by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR). Some highlights of both study results follow.
Of the students surveyed at NMC (n=686), 97% percent own a smartphone and 90% percent own a laptop computer. Nationally, 97% of students own a smartphone and 95% own a laptop. In addition, over 90% consider their laptop essential to completing academic work and 78% consider their smartphone to be at least moderately important to their academic success. At NMC, 85% of students surveyed indicated use their laptops very often or often for academic-related tasks and 55% indicated the same for their smartphone.
Some NMC specific data shows that 58.5% of responding students felt that it is very important or important to be able to submit assignments using their smartphone, read course materials (60.8%), and work on activities in the classroom (46.8%). In addition, nearly 82% of students reported that it is very important – important to be able to check their grades on their smartphone and in addition, 54.4% students surveyed reported checking their grades in Moodle one to five times a week and just over 20% do so one to three times a month. While the ECAR study did not address specific academic uses of smartphones, 70% of students reported that instructors ban (23%) or discourage the use (47%) of smartphones in the classroom. The data from both show that while laptops still do the heavy lifting of academic tasks (paper writing, testing, quizzing, notes), smartphones are becoming more important to the everyday academic life of students.
Finally, when NMC students were asked what technology they wish their NMC instructors would use, 54% responded that they wished NMC instructors would use Early Alert Systems (defined as alerts if it appears academic progress in a course is declining), 53% would like to see more lecture capture (recording), and 53% would like more free Open Educational Resources. Comparatively, national data from ECAR reported students wished for the same three technologies just in a different prioritized order: lecture capture, free open educational resources, and early alerts systems. Similarly, both NMC students and students surveyed by ECAR expressed that they wished more of their faculty used the school Learning Management System (Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas, etc…). Open-ended survey responses from NMC students included the statements, “My current Math 111 does not use Moodle. Moodle has been very helpful in the past”, “Every assignment given out in class documented on Moodle as well”, and “I wish grades would be posted to Moodle.” So in many ways, NMC students are similar to students across the country in regards to what technology is important and what about technology is important. How we use this data to implement or expand the use of student desired technology will be an important step in our PDCA process and in the innovation mindset of the institution.