ECAR 2015 Study of Students and Information Technology

Since 2004, EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) has conducted an annual investigation of the technologies that matter most to undergraduate students (exploring students’ technology experiences and expectations). In 2015, the ECAR technology survey was sent to 161 institutions, yielding 50,274 responses across 11 countries and 43 U.S. states. These are the key findings from the report:

  • Technology Experiences – Technology is embedded into students’ lives, and students generally have positive inclinations toward technology. Technology has a moderate influence on students’ active involvement in classes; a smaller percentage of today’s undergraduates say they get more actively involved in courses that use technology than students from the 2012 study. Most students were prepared to use technology when they entered college. Today’s undergraduates feel no more (or less) prepared to use technology in higher education than their counterparts from a few years ago.
  • Technology Ownership and the Campus Environment – More students own Internet-capable devices now than ever. A projected increase in connected devices could soon challenge even the best-provisioned networks.
  • Mobile Devices and Student Learning – Students and faculty have similarly high levels of interest in using mobile devices to enhance learning, but the actual use of these devices in academics remains low, despite their increased prevalence.
  • Technology Resources and Tools – Although students use technology extensively, we have evidence that technologies are not achieving their full potential for academic use. Meaningful and intuitive use of technology for academics cannot be assumed, even when a technology is widely available or used by students in other contexts.
  • Analytics and Data Privacy – Most students support institutional use of their data to advise them on academic progress in courses and programs. Much of the analytics functionality students seek already exists in digital learning environments.
  • New Models for Education – New models for education, such as MOOCs and competency-based credentials, haven’t yet translated to behavioral or attitudinal changes for undergraduates. The majority of students say they learn best with a blend of online and face-to-face work.

Note: In 2015, there is also a related study of Faculty and Information Technology Report.


Eden Dahlstrom, with D. Christopher Brooks, Susan Grajek, and Jamie Reeves. ECAR Study of Students and Information Technology, 2015. Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR, December 2015.


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