Gone are the days when students camp out in the library all night to write research papers and study for their midterms and finals. Instead, students are in their residence halls and apartments with a laptop or mobile device.
Students consider laptops to be their most important resource for studying. Based on a survey conducted by McGraw-Hill Education (2016), students consider their laptops to be the most important resource available to them for studying. Twenty-two percent of survey respondents find the ability to study on their mobile devices "extremely important," and mobility continues to be student's favorite aspect of digital learning technology. Laptops make tasks such as taking notes simpler than using a notebook and pen for class.
One example of how students are using technology to study can be found on student blogger Sabrina Leung's post on the Students Toolbox website. She said that she uses OneNote to organize and color-code her class notes, bring PowerPoint outlines into her notes, and record audio that is synced with the notes she typed. This feature allows students to click the play button next to a particular bullet point and OneNote will play the audio associated with that note. She also uses the Apple Preview app to add textboxes and highlighting to annotate her notes, lecture handouts, and pdf documents. For PC users there are other apps available such as WondersharePDFelement available.
Technology plays an important role in students' study practices. Over 70% of the survey respondents find it at least moderately important to study on mobile electronic devices, and they report that technology is most helpful with doing homework (81%) or preparing for exams and tests (79%). Respondents most strongly agreed that technology increases their engagement with course materials (71%), professors (58%), and the college community (51%).
Students believe that digital learning technology helps them learn. Eight-one percent (81%) of the survey respondents agree that technology improves their grades and allows them to spend more time studying through increased accessibility to the course materials and improved efficiency. Students are using apps on their mobile devices as class and homework planners, annotation devices for PDF's, document scanners, citation generators, creation of flashcards, and as a tool for learning other languages.
Students want the learning platform to be adaptable to their needs. Nearly all students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that digital learning technology should be adaptive to their learning style (89%). About half indicated that being able to personalize the technology like they do in social media feeds is very or extremely important (49%). Two thirds report that online quizzes and adaptive learning technology are very or extremely helpful in retention of the materials (66%).
Nearly all students surveyed (91%) reported that their study experience at home is contingent on access to Wi-Fi, personal devices, and digital learning platforms. Over half of the respondents indicated similar contingencies at the library.
For the instructors preparing the materials in the digital learning system, it is useful to know what types of technology students prefer to use. The chart below illustrates the survey results.
Cortez, M. B. (2017, Jun. 9). 3 ways technology is changing studying. EdTech.
Heath, A. (2016, Aug. 15). 12 apps that every student should have. Business Insider.
Leung, S. (2016, Sept. 20). How I take notes for lectures and tutorials. Students Toolbox.
McGraw-Hill Education. (2016, October). 2016 Digital Study Trends Survey.