Tuesday, January 29, 2013

College Student Technology Survey - Fall 2012

Over the past year I changed institutions. After many years as the CIO at Salisbury University in Maryland I moved the same position at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Both are great schools, but have a different feel. Salisbury has about 8,700 students (7,900 UG) and TCNJ is slightly smaller at about 7,400. There is a clear emphasis on the undergraduate (6,500 UG) experience at TCNJ although it has some graduate programs. Salisbury is more of a comprehensive with many more graduate programs. TCNJ is more selective and largely residential, but the schools come from the same “teachers college” roots.

I could not wait to survey the students at TCNJ. In December 2012, I sent out a web survey and was able to get 816 responses in three days. I did not do a follow-up request. In the past I have found that 800 students give you a pretty good sample to identify trends.

Here are the interesting observations for fall 2012 at TCNJ:

Of 816 students surveyed all but one student owns a computer. Computer ownership is no longer even a consideration at TCNJ. Virtually students own a laptop and about 25% also own a desktop computer. We also found that about 17% own tablets. Multiple computers have hit this campus. That said, TCNJ still operates many computer labs, as most campuses do. Teaching in a computer lab is desirable in many disciplines and many disciplines and students take advantage of institutionally purchased specialty software. Just for the record, 42% of the TCNJ students own MACs and about 60% work on PC laptops. This seems to be a growing trend, but is surprising at the over cost of higher education and the relative cost of a MAC over a PC.

Students still own portable music devices with 88% owning either an Apple iPod or an iPod touch. E-readers owned by 19% of the students and 47% own game consoles. TCNJ does not offer free printing in labs and the library so 67% of students own personal printers. BTW, 74% of students are TCNJ own televisions. I was a little surprised by that since I was starting to think that the video demand of Netflix and Hulu would start bringing this number down.

In the cell phone space 809 of 811 respondents own cell phones. Smart phones are owned by 77%. This has grown rapidly. When I asked the same question in 2008 at Salisbury smart phone ownership was at 5%. At TCNJ, 50% of the students own iPhones, 22% own Android phones and only 3% own blackberries. Windows Smart phones came in at only 1%.

TCNJ went with the Google free email and apps option for students a few years back. I was surprised to see that 87% of the students are using Google Apps. Where is Microsoft office – in the labs. The TCNJ students are pretty great at checking their email. The survey suggested that 95% check their email daily and 99% check it at least 2-3 times a week. This is quite a bit higher than I have seen in recent years. Many college administrators will tell you that students never check their email. This is not rue at TCNJ.

One last observation for this installment. Students are still the target of the RIAA and the MPAA for illegal downloading of music and films. At TCNJ 59% of students say they never illegally download entertainment content and only 11% say that they do it often. These may not seem like good numbers, but they are not bad at all.

Next time I will look at the “write in IT suggestions” of TCNJ students.