More than 40% of campus students own smartphones, yearly tech survey says

Among UC Davis students, more than two-fifths own smartphones; laptops rule, at least for now; and Macs are three times more popular today than they were in 2006. So say the respondents to the latest Information and Educational Technology survey of student tech use.

Computer Lab Management, part of IET-Academic Technology Services, has done the survey each winter for 12 years to track computer trends among typical students. Faculty and staff can use the data for various reasons, such as deciding which systems to support, or how to use emerging technologies to work with their students.

In March, CLM sent two surveys to 2,000 students who used campus computer rooms during winter quarter. The first survey, asking about use of the rooms, computer ownership and similar subjects, drew 171 responses. The second focused on smartphones such as iPhones or Blackberries, and attracted 118 responses. It is the first CLM survey to ask about smartphones.

Some highlights from CLM manager Tim Leamy:

--Computer ownership among students is close to 100 percent.

--87 percent own laptop computers (including tablets and netbooks). Desktop ownership has dwindled to 10.5 percent. (These percentages refer to the students' primary computer; 17 percent of students own both laptop and desktop models.)

--Mac ownership has more than tripled, from 7.2 percent in winter 2006 to 23.4 percent in winter 2009.

--Among PC users, 34.5 percent use Windows Vista operating system software, the same as use Windows XP (Vista's predecessor). Vista's use has climbed from 19.9 percent in winter 2008 and 0.9 percent in winter 2007. Mac users mostly use Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5. "Therefore, at this time it is probably safe to support just Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X 10.4 and Mac OS X 10.5," the survey interpretation says.

--Overall, students use the computer rooms for academic, class-related reasons at a much higher percentage than for personal reasons.

--Printing remains one of the most important reasons that students use the open access computer labs--not surprising, because few students own a high-quality printer at home.

--Only 25 percent will wait for a computer in the rooms if the waiting line has more than 10 people.

--Many would like more open access computer labs and/or more printing stations.

--43 percent own a smartphone.

--Students frequently use smartphones to make calls, check email, view Web pages, and send texts or instant messages. They use the machines less often to read documents, connect to Moobilenet, and listen to music. They rarely use them to take notes in class, listen to a class podcast, or record lectures.