CourseSmart's Third Annual Survey on Education and Technology Reveals College Students' Growing Dependence on Mobile Devices and Digital Course Materials

New Research Shows that Digital Textbook Usage and Device Ownership Have Increased Dramatically; Cost of Attending College Remains a Top Concern

Jul 22, 2013, 09:00 ET from CourseSmart

SAN MATEO, Calif., July 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- CourseSmart®, a leading Educational Services Platform and the world's largest provider of digital course materials, today announced the results of it's third annual survey revealing the digital habits of today's college students. Fielded by Wakefield Research, an independent research consultancy, the survey of more than 500 currently enrolled college students found significant increases in students' overall reliance on technology as a means to improve their academic productivity and performance, especially their use of mobile devices to access course materials on the go. The survey also highlights the impact of student debt on the school, career and lifestyle choices of today's financially burdened students. 

"We are continuing to see the positive potential of technology to increase access, lower costs and improve outcomes in higher education," said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart. "The results of this survey underscore just how much students have embraced mobile devices and digital course materials to enhance their productivity, efficiency and performance, all of which impact students' educational success and financial prospects in this highly competitive, globally connected world." 

Key findings of the survey include:
Diverse Devices, Digital Dependency:
Almost all (99%) students surveyed reported having at least one digital device, and while laptops were the most common (93%), many students now own smart phones (78%) and tablets (35%). This is a significant increase from our 2011 survey when only 47% of students said they owned a smart phone and 7% reported owning a tablet. Further results in this area include:

  • A majority (68%) of students use three or more devices every day
  • 47% of students say they check their devices every 10 minutes, up from 38% of students in 2011
  • 59% of students say they are more likely to bring a laptop or tablet to class while only 41% prefer to bring a textbook

Studying Smarter, Saving Time
Almost all students surveyed (90%) admitted they don't always complete the required reading in time for class. Of those students, a majority (53%) report they would be more likely to complete that reading if the material was available digitally and could be viewed on mobile devices. That number increased from 46% of students surveyed in 2011, showing that students are becoming increasingly more comfortable with consuming materials on mobile devices. Further results in this area include:

  • 88% of students say they have used a mobile device for last minute studying before a test, up from 79% of students surveyed in 2012
  • 79% of students felt that technology such as mobile devices, digital textbooks, e-readers and tablets saved them time when studying and learning
    • Of those students, 64% say technology saves them two or more hours every day

The Cost Conundrum: Choices and Compromises
In addition to devices, students have another thing on their mind – the growing cost of higher education – as almost half of students surveyed (49%) said they decided not to attend an institution after being selected because the cost was too high. However, students are accepting they might have some student loan debt with a strong majority (72%) saying they would rather have a full time job than be debt-free. Further results in this area include:

  • 72% of students recalled having a discussion about financing their college education
  • The potential for student debt was a factor for 78% of students when selecting a college or university to attend
  • When asked what will be impacted by student loan debt, 61% of students indicated where they live, 56% named the type of job sought with 46% citing the number of jobs they work post graduation and 44% saying student loan debt would impact their decision to attend graduate school

Textbooks Move from Print to Pixels
eTextbook usage is growing quickly with 79% of students saying they have used an eTextbook, up from 63% in 2011. This increased usage may be due to the fact that professors are increasingly touting the benefits of digital course materials. In fact, 84% of the students surveyed have had a professor recommend the purchase of an eTextbook and 52% of students said professors frequently recommend eTextbooks, which is up from only 42% in 2012. Further results in this area include:

  • 66% of students use eTextbooks frequently, as compared to only 43% of students in 2011
  • 17% of students said they think only eTextbooks will be used in 10 years and 55% predicted that eTexbook usage would outweigh print
  • Only 7% of students expected print textbooks to remain dominant

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About CourseSmart®
CourseSmart is a leading Educational Services Platform and the only provider of digital course materials able to combine curriculum, content and delivery into a single solution. Founded in 2007, the San Mateo, Calif.–based company provides services to four business segments: online direct retail for students; indirect distribution of course materials to students through bookstores; online faculty textbook evaluation services; and institutional solutions for faculty and students that are integrated within campus technology ecosystems. CourseSmart improves the educational experience by offering all users, including those with print-related disabilities, anytime, anywhere access to the course content they need. With more than 90% of the same core titles offered by major print publishers, the company's eTextbooks can be purchased for up to 60% less than the cost of new print textbooks. For more information about CourseSmart, visit the company's Web site at

Methodological Notes
The CourseSmart Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 500 Americans currently enrolled in college, ages 18-23, between May 22nd and May 31st, 2013, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population between the ages of 18 and 23.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

Media Contact:
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SOURCE CourseSmart