Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What do freshmen want from IT

I have been looking back at the comments of our spring technology survey. We ask students questions about what technologies they use personally and for academic purposes. We also ask them, in an open ended question, to tell us what they want most in terms of campus technology. This year's survey included 660 students overall, including 130 freshmen. This represents about 11% of the fall 2010 freshmen class. Not a huge number, but enough to get a sense of what students are thinking. eighty students gave written responses.

First some quick info on these freshmen:

- Slightly over 81% of the group lived on campus in 2010-11
- 95% consider themselves to be mainstream adopters of technology, early adopters or innovators.
- 100% own laptops and 18% of these also own a desktop computer
- Only 6.4% own an iPad, 55% own the iPod Touch and 38% own digital video cameras.
- 100% own cell phones, with 43% of these owning Smart phones.
- Over 40% spend 16 or more hours per week on the Internet
- 96% own an iPod or other digital music player
- 27% use Facebook and 37% us YouTube for CLASS work

This looks like a pretty connected group and we are definitely seeing students coming to campus with multiple digital devices. When asked what more can we do, the most often mentioned suggestions were:

- Make more computers available for walk up use on campus in the library, residence halls, or for loan at various locations around campus.
- Make iPads available on campus
- SPEED. They want faster wireless and wired connectivity.
- Make it easier to connect mobile devices to the wireless to the wireless network (we require authentication)
- Update GullNet, our web based student services systems. Some feel it is dated and difficult to use. GullNet is PeopleSoft and was upgraded to version 9.0 in 2009.

There were more suggestions, but these wee most often seen. Some students actually think things are nice the way they are. In all, we see mobile as the most rapidly growing trend, but students want access to the Internet even when they don't have their own device handy.

The bar for technical continues to rise annually and will keep IT departments chasing the curve. So it goes.