The student stereotype of party goers that miss lectures will soon be banished to history, according to a survey commissioned by Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB). The survey reveals the new reality of studying in the UK; relying on online learning technology to fit study around paid work and other commitments.
While most universities advocate that students work no more than 12-16 hours per week while enrolled in a full time course, almost a third of students who maintain a full time job are working 16 hours or more per week according to the survey, which questioned both higher education and further education students across the UK. The survey provides insight into student coping mechanisms and how innovations in education are impacting the way they study.
With traditional daily trips to campus becoming a thing of the past, only one in seven students complete more than 60 percent of their self-study and assignments within college facilities. Instead, 42 percent of students said that they frequently study between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on weekdays.
A majority of students say they use their online learning environment to keep up at a time convenient for them, and 40 percent regularly rely on them to complete academic work well into the evening or over the weekend. The responses demonstrate how 24/7 access to learning materials has become vital for today’s generation of students.
Technology Seen as Key to Enabling Lifelong Learning
HE and FE institutions have by and large embraced online learning technology with over 90 percent of students saying their institutions offer an online learning environment through which they can download lecture notes, submit assignments and take part in online discussions with other students and tutors. Online learning plays a crucial role within the student experience, with 62 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing it is or would help them to achieve higher results.
At most universities the online learning environment is predominantly used to provide access to course materials (87 percent) and to enable learners to study in their own time (85 percent). The majority (64 percent) indicate it enables them to submit assignments and receive feedback online. Over half (55 percent) also indicate that it allows them to communicate and work online with other students and lecturers.
Are U.K. Institutions Missing a Trick with Mobile Phones?
Today’s students expect to be connected on the move with use of their mobile devices for a whole range of day-to-day activities, such as communicating with friends, tutors and colleagues, ordering course books and checking train or bus times to and from campus. Yet respondents to the survey indicate that only 14 percent of FE and HE students are provided with this type of information through an online learning environment customised for a mobile phone. As fees rise and students work long hours to support themselves, mobile learning facilities are likely to become an increasingly important factor when considering at which institution to study.
As for using mobile technologies to keep students informed, the majority of students surveyed would like to receive updates from their institution via text or voice message, yet just 8 percent currently do so. Again, as students become increasingly mobile, it is likely institutions will have to adapt to accommodate this demand.
“The age old perception of students just simply isn’t true,” said Richard Horton, Regional Vice President, Blackboard. “Today’s 21st century students are paying a huge premium for their education and know they’ll be entering a highly competitive marketplace. Our survey reveals the unquestionable level of commitment students give to their academic work, as well as their dependence on online and mobile technology to fit this around other commitments.”
The survey was carried out online and elicited 505 responses. The results are summarised in a free report available online at http://bb.blackboard.com/studentexperience2010.