Subject Librarian

Jisc technology student research

A couple of weeks ago, Jisc announced some interesting findings regarding a survey into how students use technology. I was particularly interested in the top line stuff because I’m currently chair of our library service’s social media group and the university has also distributed tablets to all undergrads with their bursary. Unfortunately, the raw data was not available so I was unable to read too much into these figures, so I asked Jisc if they could make them available. At the end of last week they contacted me with a PDF link to the raw data, which I was really pleased to receive (thanks Jisc data folks!):

I’ve picked through some of the data to put together a short digest for work, and I thought I’d sort of replicate that here, presenting some of the findings that I found particularly interesting/noteworthy.

First, a word about the data itself. 500 individuals responded to the survey with a mixture of college (6th form) and university students. The research in the PDF document is broken down by gender, region, age and whether they were college or university students. Each of the graphs below represent the overall figure for each query. I’ve not broken them down as that would just replicate all the data that is on the original paper. This is just a summary really and I’d recommend delving into the hard data for more of a breakdown. That said, I will offer some commentary on some of the results in reference to the broken down data available from Jisc.

In terms of the age groups (which I will make most reference to), the data broke down as follows:

18-24 – 91 respondents (18.2%)

25-34 – 208 (41.6%)

35-44 – 134 (26.8%)

45-54 – 35 (7%)

55+ – 32 (6.4%)

What technology do you use the most often when you’re studying?

What technology do you use the most often when you’re studying


In response to this question, tablets pretty much came top across the age groups, with one exception: the 18-24 range. This may be due to the small sample of students within this range, but it was interesting to note that tablets scored highest within the 25-34 range.

Average hours a week using technology

Average hours a week using technology


Unsurprisingly, laptops came top for all students and across most of the age ranges (laptop use ranging from 6.11hrs – 8.21hrs across the age groups that ranked it highest). The exception? The 45-54 (4.47hrs) and 55+ (7.16hrs) ranges both spent most of their time on tablets rather than computers.

What do you think your institution could do with technology to make studying easier for you?

What do you think your institution could do with technology to make studying easier for you

No shocks here: students want better and faster internet connections. That said, there was substantial interest in virtual lectures, particularly in the 25-34 range. 24hr libraries weren’t quite such a priority, although this drops down the priority scale as you go up the ranges, until we reach the 55+ range. This is perhaps down to students aged 25-54 having other considerations (family perhaps) that would limit the usefulness of a 24hr library service, whereas the younger and older age groups perhaps do not have this concern to the same extent.

Do you use social media to stay in touch with lecturers/teachers?

Do you use social media to stay in touch with lecturers and teachers

A slight majority do not use social media to stay in touch with lecturers/teachers. The gap widens at the 25-34 age bracket, but narrows significantly at the 35-44 age bracket. However, whilst social media users are in a minority, 2/5ths of students do report that they use social media, so it needs to be taken seriously as a means of communicating with them.

Which social media channels do you use?

Which social media channels do you use

Across all the age groups, Facebook remains by far the most popular social media tool used by students. Twitter is some way behind in some age groups but a lot closer in others (particularly the 25-34 age bracket). It’s interesting to note that the third most popular social media channel is Whatsapp, a tool I would guess is being used predominantly for peer-to-peer communication and I’m not sure that it is a space that the library could successfully engage. Whatsapp may also be particularly useful for distance learners as it enables them to ‘text’ each other without incurring text charges, whilst also maintaining the privacy not afforded them in public messaging tools such as Twitter.

Which of the following have you used your smartphone for?

Which of the following have you used your smartphone for

This one I found particularly interesting! A significant number of responses indicate that smartphones are being used to research, draft or edit assignments. In terms of drafting and editing, the 25-34 and 35-44 ranges both have this as the most common response, 18-24 year olds put it third and 45-54 and 55+ both place drafting assignments as second (or equal second). Putting my digital divide hat on for one moment, it’s also worth pointing out that 60 respondents said they did not have a smartphone (that’s 12% of the total number of respondents).

As I said at the top, this is really a summary of some top line stuff that stood out for me. I’d definitely recommend having a look at the data within the survey commissioned by Jisc (see the link in the tweet at the top). There are obviously some limitations, but it provides an interesting snapshot of the current state of play with tech in colleges and HE.

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