ACRL Study Provides More Evidence of Students’ Desire to Engage with Mobile Devices

By John Hamerlinck

One of the purposes of this blog is to discuss how we might leverage current trends and uses of already existing information technology to engage campuses in the civic purposes of higher education. One of the most significant trends on campuses and in communities, is the shift to Internet-enabled handheld devices.

Every area of higher education is creating policies and practices that recognize the profound shift from “computers” as we have known them, to mobile devices and applications. We need to make sure that those of us who are promoting experiential, community-centered education are not left in the digital dust.

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently published  2010 top ten trends in academic libraries. The article reports on an Educause Center for Applied research study of undergraduate students and information technology. The study clearly points to a world where increasingly, the engagement vehicle of choice is mobile.The ACRL piece states:

“Explosive growth of mobile devices and applications will drive new services. Smart phones, e-book readers, iPads, and other handheld devices will drive user demands and expectations. The 2009 ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology found that 51.2 percent of respondents owned an Internet-capable handheld device and another 11.8 percent planned to purchase one within the next 12 months. Students indicated that they most wanted to use their institution’s e-mail service, administrative services, and course management system from their handheld devices.”

If you believe that educational technologists are simply people who keep your projectors and whiteboards working, think again. It is time for the practitioners of civic engagement in higher education to lock arms with education technologists to create innovative and effective opportunities for students, faculty and staff at colleges and universities to teach and learn from their shared experiences while using the powerful tools they probably already have in their pockets.