Students Turn To Tech as Tuition Climbs

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of students said the availability of online classes would be important to their educational experience.

education IT and social media

The proliferation of technology for personal use has not escaped the palms and desks of students, with 45 percent of students saying they usually do not go more than 10 minutes without using some form of technology during an average school day, according to a report from Vital Source Technologies.

The study, fielded by Wakefield Research, an independent research consultancy, found 62 percent of students use interactive textbooks with features such as video, audio and quizzes, while 44 percent use mobile learning such as courses utilizing apps, social media and productivity tools.

A third said they use "flipped classrooms," including courses discussing video lectures watched prior to class, and 23 percent use Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, which allow for unlimited participation.

Though the physical classroom remains most common, students are increasingly accepting of online classes, which are becoming a larger part of their overall educational experience.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of students said the availability of online classes would be important to their educational experience, compared with 59 percent in 2013, and 77 percent of students have taken at least one online course, while 42 percent of students said they get better grades in online courses versus in-person courses.

"Online classes are increasingly gaining acceptance for a variety of reasons—they are convenient, cost-efficient and provide access to those who might not have it otherwise," Cindy Clarke, vice president of marketing for Vital Source Technologies, told eWEEK. "Online courses are continually improving, and tech-savvy students are increasingly comfortable consuming digital educational content."

When asked which courses would be better taught online, half said history, followed by a significant percentage saying English (42 percent), foreign languages (29 percent) and math (28 percent).

"We have learned that some subjects naturally lend themselves to certain formats; science and math courses, for example, often require hands-on lab and group work experience for optimal learning," Clarke explained. "In contrast, history is a more document-oriented content area, and therefore, is especially compatible with online learning and technologies such as digital textbooks."

In addition to online courses, students are experiencing greater use of social media in the classroom, with 65 percent of college students, aged 18 to 23, saying social media will eventually be required in all classes, and 65 percent of survey participants admitting their Facebook accounts are not currently "class-ready" due to questionable content.

"Privacy will always be a top priority in the classroom; however, today's students are so accustomed to sharing their lives online that they are very pragmatic about the benefits of social media versus privacy concerns," Clarke said. "That said, many social media sites have strict privacy controls in place, and many students can opt-out of online situations where they may have privacy concerns."

Meanwhile, 77 percent of students said a professor has used, or asked them to use, at least one social media site for a class. The most popular accounts are YouTube (57 percent), Facebook (42 percent) and Twitter (25 percent).