New information released by the 2015 Campus Computing Survey shows that in 84% of higher education institutions have mobile apps or plan to in the coming year, compared to 78% in 2013, and 60% in 2012, and the figures don’t stop there. From community colleges to public and private institutions, College IT departments across the board report that planning for tablets and smartphones is a top priority in the next 2-3 years. Campuses are going mobile, so understanding the use patterns of college students not only ensures that new technologies are adopted, it gives institutions a return on their investments in IT.
Students Trend Toward Tablets and Smartphones
College students’ mobile device ownership is steadily increasing. A 2013 Educase study on undergraduate mobile device usage showed that students own an average of 2-3 internet-enabled devices, and tablet and smartphone ownership jumped the most from 2012-2013. While laptops are still the most used mobile device by students, institutions and students alike are preparing for the upward trend in tablet and smartphone use in the library and study environment. Students consider themselves expert users of mobile devices, and their preferences skewed heavily toward iOS and Android devices with 83% ownership, followed by Blackberry devices with 9% ownership, and Windows, Symbian and other mobile platforms constituting the remainder of ownership.
How Students Use Mobile Devices for Learning
Although undergraduate use of smartphones and tablets is on the rise, the majority of students report being discouraged from using smartphones in the classroom, and 49% of students want professors to integrate smartphones into classroom learning. When asked what they would use smartphones for – if encouraged to – the top three uses students reported were looking up information, photographing information, and accessing digital resources. While inadequate battery life tops the chart for barriers to mobile device use, 20% of students reported that they didn’t have access to adequate apps. The greatest number of students reported using mobile devices for checking grades, using Content Management Systems, and accessing financial information, and 70% of students reported using their mobile devices to access library resources. These findings suggest that students are eager to use mobile devices for learning, but rely on the encouragement of faculty and staff to do so.
The Mobile Apps Students Use the Most
Native apps are the preference for students’ mobile app activities, and this trend increases as students become more advanced in their mobile device use. Novice users reported an average of 1.7 hours native app use and 1.4 hours mobile browser use each day, while expert users reported 3.6 hours native app use and 1.7 hours of mobile browser use each day. College students report that native apps are easier and faster to use than mobile browsers, a preference that’s reflected by increases in mobile app use for educational purposes. When college students were polled at the University of Central Florida about the frequency with which they use different types of mobile apps, the frequency of reference, book and UCF apps increased the most from 2012 to 2014.
Whether in the classroom, library, or studying with friends, college students are employing mobile devices as tools of educational empowerment. As institutions plan for the mobile future, native app development and deployment is an integral part of every college’s communication strategy.
Interested in learning more about how a mobile app for your academic library can help engage your students? Contact Boopsie’s academic library app team!