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Oct. 27, 2011

Annual technology survey to track MSU trends

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting has released initial survey data from a groundbreaking project designed to collect information about how the MSU community uses computers, social media and mobile technology over time.

The first MSU Internet and Mobile Technology Survey was distributed to one third of campus faculty, staff and students, asking questions about what features and technologies they utilize and what they would like to see in the future.

“It is important that we collect baseline information so we can track the way people use and access MSU’s digital presence over time, because it is essential that we keep pace with user needs and the rapid developments that are occurring with mobile technologies,” said Sarah Swierenga, director of UARC.

Questions ranged from gauging levels of technological usage and expertise to asking whether mobile devices should be encouraged during classroom settings to facilitate discussions or conduct quizzes.

The lead researcher on the project is focused on long-term analysis. “We intend to conduct the survey annually, and hope that the results can be used to enhance MSU’s online presence for both expert and casual users,” said Graham Pierce, who is a user experience specialist at UARC.

Among the findings:

  • One third of the MSU community uses Internet-enabled phones and touch screens to access while one quarter of students and one third of staff and faculty never use such devices.
  • Students report using Internet-enabled phones more often than desktop computers.
  • More than 50 percent of the MSU community believes that classes should use online content “a lot” or more, while 16 percent encourages the use of mobile devices during classes.
  • More than 90 percent of students regularly use Facebook, compared with only 57 percent of faculty and 68 percent of staff. Other social media used by students include aIIMSU (30.4 percent), Twitter (22.1 percent), LinkedIn (16.8 percent), foursquare (1.4 percent), and MySpace (0.5 percent).

"It is exciting to witness the proliferation of smartphones and increased social media use across campus. If leveraged, these two trends combined present tremendous opportunities for MSU as a premier higher education institution in enhancing our students' academic experience, while supporting the development of their social capital. Both are key elements for our graduates' success in a highly competitive, global marketplace," said Constantinos Coursaris, assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media and adjunct assistant professor at UARC.