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Mobile technologies are playing an increasingly important role in college students’ academic lives. The New Media Consortium’s 2014 Horizon Report listed mobile apps and mobile learning as key emerging technologies that have potential relevance to teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher education (Johnson, Adams, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014).
To appreciate the landscape of this emerging technology on campus, a comparative study on adoption of mobile learning and eTextbooks at the University of Central Florida (UCF) was conducted. In 2012, UCF’s Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) distributed the first survey to students and 933 completed the survey. The 2012 survey report can be downloaded at: http://mobile.cdl.ucf.edu/?p=60
A follow-up survey was distributed in Spring 2014. A total of 1181 students completed the survey. These students were enrolled in 83 online, mixed-mode and face-to-face classes in Spring 2014 at UCF. The participants surveyed represented 12 different colleges with 91% being undergraduate and 68% being female.
The survey includes both closed and open-ended questions which are based on existing research and surveys previously distributed by the university. It was structured in two main categories: mobile learning (devices and apps) and eTextbooks. Topics include device ownership, access, and beliefs towards the technologies concerning areas such as learning, sense of community, and engagement. Student responses to this survey will allow us to gauge a baseline for usage and beliefs at UCF, compare the results with the 2012 survey, and shape the next course of action.
Key findings of this report include:
- Ownership of mobile devices is high and continues to increase among students.
- Student level, sex and age were demographic factors relating to ownership of mobile devices.
- There is still a large difference between instructors requiring the use of mobile devices in coursework and students reporting the use of mobile devices on their own for learning.
- Age, student classification, and race emerged as demographic factors relating to student-reported use of mobile devices, tablets, and e-book readers for learning purposes.
- 66% of students (n=781) indicated that they had used a mobile app for learning at least once each week.
- Students reported limited instructor support for using mobile apps/devices in coursework.
- 60% of students (n=707) reported using an eTextbook at least once in their college studies.
- Student level and sex emerged as demographic factors relating to eTextbook usage.
- Most students believed they possess the technical and study skills to use an eTextbook but were mixed about learning effectiveness, engagement, and sense of community.
This report is structured in three sections: mobile device general ownership and usage; mobile app usage and beliefs; and eTextbook usage and beliefs. Recommendations for future action are proposed in the conclusion.
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Infographic comparing 2012 and 2014 survey results: