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Survey: One-Third of Educational Time Spent Online

One-third of all educational time is spent online by Canadian post-secondary students, according to a new report from Intel Canada.

"Despite potential concerns," according to a news release, "the majority of both students and teachers agree that personal mobile technology in the classroom is having a major positive impact on engagement, empowerment and collaboration, and is helping students to overcome barriers imposed by increasingly large class sizes."

One of those potential concerns, the possibility of being distracted by technology, was cited by half of students surveyed as a drawback. Nevertheless, two in three also said that technology helps them maintain personal contact with instructors and teaching assistants in spite of the  barriers of large classes, and 79 percent said that mobile technology helps to empower their learning experience.

"People often think that technology means people stop talking to one another, but the opposite is true – it breeds collaboration, particularly in an educational setting," said Canada Research Chair on Information Technology and Communications in Education Thierry Karsenti, in a prepared statement.

Indeed, the most commonly cited online educational activities were collaborating with peers and communicating with instructors or teaching assistants, at 87 and 86 percent, respectively.

Other activities commonly completed online, according to the students surveyed, included research, at a 78 percent clip, and homework, at 52 percent.

"Teachers, too, are embracing mobile personal technologies in order to improve their teaching methods, including offering online audio or video recordings of lectures, communicating with students and sharing course materials online," according to a news release. "Newer teachers (those out of school for less than ten years) report incorporating technology such as audio or video lecture recordings more frequently than their counterparts."

Sixty-nine percent of instructors surveyed said the adoption of mobile technology was turning education into a collaboration between students and instructors.

"In my work and research I see a trend towards building your own classroom — the inclination of students, powered by the right technology, to control when, how and where they learn," added Karsenti. "The goal with technology is to teach students how to use their devices to learn rather than socialize — replacing a potential distraction with a powerful and unmatched education tool."

Eighty-six percent of participating students said that battery life was a key feature of their technology, with 76 percent of respondents rating it as "very important." Performance, such as speed and ability to multitask, was also commonly cited as very important, at a rate of 74 percent.

"As teachers and professors continue to evolve their curricula for mobile devices, technology continues to empower every student to build their own classroom," said Joseph Ellis, market development manager at Intel Canada, in a prepared statement. "Parents and students no longer have to compromise between choosing either more performance or more battery life — they can have both. New choices like 2 in 1 devices allow them to focus on enriching the learning experience with new capabilities spanning touch, digital pens, and voice-to-text conversion."

The survey included responses from 535 students and 310 educators.

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