May 21, 2022

New Report and Inforgraphic: ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012

The following report was released earlier this week by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Numerous charts.

Direct to Full Text Report (38 pages; PDF)

Key Findings

Blending modalities and engaging learners is a winning combination.
• Blended-learning environments are the norm; students say that these environments best support how they learn.
• Students expect their instructors to use technology to engage them in the learning process, and instructors are responding.
• Understanding which technologies are more or less effective for students can trans- late into strategic pedagogical investments.

The time has come to move beyond thinking about individual platforms and devices.
• No surprises this year for device ownership—portable devices are the academic champions, and they are diverse in terms of brands and platforms.
• Students continue to bring their own devices, favoring small, portable ones.
• Students want to access academic progress information and course material via their mobile devices, and institutions deliver.

Students believe that technology is critical to academic success and that it plays an important part in their future accomplishments.
• Students believe technology benefits them, especially with regard to achieving their academic outcomes and preparing for future plans.
• Students report that basic technologies have the greatest impact on their success.
• Technology training and skill development for students is more important than new, more, or “better” technology.
• When it comes to device preferences, the usability afforded by the larger screens and keyboards of laptops trumps the portability offered by tablets, but the line between the two is beginning to blur.

Students want multiple communication options, and they prefer different modes for different purposes and audiences.
• Students use social networks for interacting with friends more than for academic communication.
• Academic success is underpinned by e-mail, face-to-face interaction, and using the course/learning management system.

We Found the Following Passage (Page 19) Interesting and Worthy of Special Mention:

The utility of technology as a resource to students continues to rise, with technologies such as the institution’s library website and the course or learning management system being among the resources that students use most (21). (The use of the word “basic” here refers not to rudimentary or uncomplicated technology but rather to typical or standard technology that one would expect an institution of higher education to offer.)

Like the textbooks and chalkboards/whiteboards, the institution’s library and the learning management system are resources that students expect and encounter in most of their courses, and the data show that these resources are both used and considered important for academic success. Looking at the three most recent years of data, there is an obvious increase in technology use among students for all the resources and activities asked about.

Used but how important is the library?

A bit more on the passage from a note (21) found at the end of the report:

It is interesting to note that when students were asked “When it comes to your success as an undergraduate, what is the one website or online resource you couldn’t live without?” the most frequently cited sources were Google (33%) and Blackboard (16%) [no change from last report]; both of these significantly outranked students’ citing the college or university library website (5%).


ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.