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Study examines impact of mobile devices and tech on the college experience

students and technology

CourseSmart and Wakefield Research recently released the results of a survey of more than 500 college students, which explored the ways that mobile devices and technology have transformed the college experience.

Almost all of the college students surveyed (98 percent) own a digital device. They use those devices for a wide variety of tasks, including writing papers (82 percent), research (81 percent), taking class notes (70 percent), and making in-class presentations (65 percent).

Twenty-seven percent of the students surveyed said their laptop is the most important item in their backpack--only 10 percent said their textbooks are the most important item.

Eighty-five percent of respondents said technology saves them time when studying--an average of two hours a day--and 73 percent of students surveyed said they wouldn't be able to study without the assistance of technology.

Almost half (48 percent) of college students who own a tech device read e-textbooks frequently, and 63 percent have done so at least once. Of the 91 percent of students who said they failed to finish required reading before class, 46 percent said they'd be more likely to succeed in doing so if the reading material was in a digital format.

Several benefits of e-textbooks were noted--69 percent of respondents said an e-textbook is easier to carry than a traditional textbook, 61 said e-textbooks make it easier to search within text, 60 percent said e-textbooks save them money, and 55 percent said they're easier to read on the go.

College students now use a wide variety of methods to access course materials--89 percent use e-mail to do so, 83 percent use school Web sites, 39 percent use CourseSmart, 24 percent use podcasts, and 12 percent use iTunes.

Similarly, to get help from their teachers, students count on e-mail (91 percent), mobile phones (13 percent) and social networking sites (8 percent) in addition to (or instead of) face-to-face visits during office hours.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research--501 online surveys were completed between February 23 and March 1, 2011 by American students currently enrolled in college.

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