Student Technology Profile


During the first two weeks of this semester we hosted an open, anyone-is-invited poll for students using our computer labs, asking them to tell us about their technology use.  Only 63 students participated, which is not too surprising during the opening of classes, where most students have many other things to worry about.  Nevertheless, the results closely parallel national polls and studies, which is a bit surprising for a survey so unscientific as ours.  The survey asked 20 questions, ten of which are reported below.  I will post at a later time on the others.  These results, along with their national counterparts, should be useful to Palomar planners as they decide what hardware and software products to purchase for our students into the future.

Here are our results:

Questions 1:  Do you have access to a computer at home that you can use for school work?


The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2010, out of 292,065 households, 81.4% live in a household with a computer.  Our results match almost exactly those of the Census Bureau.

Question 2:  Do you own a laptop computer?


We seem to be above the national, randomly selected average on laptop ownership (see this Pew study which reports a 61% national average), but this may reflect the differences between college students and the general public.  Note that ownership of desktops continues its precipitous decline in favor of laptops and mobile devices.

Question 3:  Do you own a tablet computing device?


While Pew reported 31% tablet ownership (NOT including e-reader devices), our own results was 28.6%, a good match.  iPads were the dominant tablet, but instances of Kindle Fires and Nexus tablets also existed.

Question 4:  Do you own a cell phone?


As you might expect, cell phone ownership is nearly universal, and exists here at a higher rate than Pew reports nationally.  Remember, the Pew results are for a randomly selected group of people in the US, our survey is of Palomar College students.

Compare, however question 4 to question 5:  Is your cell phone a smartphone?


The national average of smartphone ownership, across all age groups, is 45%, but the national average in the 18-29 year old group is 66%, closer to our own results of 71.4%.  Of smartphone users in our survey, 37% owned iPhones, 60% owned some species of Android phone, no one owned a Windows phone, and < 1% reported some other type of smartphone.  These results also closely match the national averages, as reported by Nielsen.

Question 6:  How many email accounts do you have?


According to a Microsoft survey, the average person has 3 email accounts, though it is often hard to remember, or even know, how many you actually have or even what an email account is anymore, with the advent of so many social networks.

Each of the students who responded to the survey have a Palomar email account, because each registered student has one, but when asked if they use it regularly, the overwhelming number said no.  Students receiving financial aid are required to do so (though why is not clear), but others clearly do not need it.

Question 7:  Do you use your Palomar email account regularly?


Question 9:  Have you ever used Google Docs?


The high percentage of Google Docs use goes a long way to explain why Microsoft is now offer a subscription-based version of Office Pro to students, faculty and staff members for $80 for 4 yours, renewable for another 4 years.  They see their market share slipping and many institutions “going Google.”

Question 10:  Which of these cloud storage services have you used?


This is the one that surprised me the most.  Everyone responding to the survey said that they use some cloud service.  There are so many of them that “Other Cloud Service” led the way, with strong results from iCloud and Google Drive.  This one should give Palomar planners pause, in combination with question 9 above maybe it means that we can rely on the Internet, rather than custom purchased programs, to provide word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs and discontinue purchasing storage for student email and student and maybe even professor document storage, where that exists.

There were other questions in the survey, but these were the most interesting from the technology planning perspective.  I will post separately on what the survey reveals about textbooks vs. e-textbooks, and student study practices.