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Research: Students Increasingly Comfortable with E-Texts

Almost all, 99 percent, of current students have at least one digital device and 68 percent use at least three devices each day, according to a new survey from Wakefield Research.

The devices respondents most commonly reported owning were laptops, at 93 percent. Smartphones and tablets rounded out the top three at 78 and 35 percent, respectively, marking a significant increase over the 2011 survey when only 47 percent of those surveyed said they had a smartphone and seven percent said they had a tablet. Nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, told surveyors they check a device every 10 minutes, a nine percent increase over the 2011 survey results.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Ninety percent of students surveyed said they occasionally fail to complete assigned reading before class;
  • Among students who told researchers they don't always complete assigned readings before class, 53 percent said they would be more likely to do so if the material was available on mobile devices, a seven percent increase as compared to the 2011 survey;
  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they prefer to bring a laptop to class instead of a textbook;
  • Eighty-eight percent of students surveyed said they'd used a mobile device for last-minute studying;
  • Among 79 percent of respondents who told researchers that mobile technology saved them time when studying and learning, 64 percent said it saved them at least two hours per day;
  • E-textbook use showed a 16 percent increase over the 2011 survey, with 79 percent of respondents saying they had used one and 66 percent saying they use one frequently; and
  • When asked about e-text adoption over the next decade, 17 percent of those surveyed said they believed only electronic texts would be used in 10 years, 55 percent said they would be more commonly used than print, and only seven percent said print textbooks would still be dominant.

"We are continuing to see the positive potential of technology to increase access, lower costs and improve outcomes in higher education," said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart, the company that commissioned the survey. "The results of this survey underscore just how much students have embraced mobile devices and digital course materials to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and performance, all of which impact students' educational success and financial prospects in this highly competitive, globally connected world."

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