Students are going mobile – Duh

A growing trend is the mobile/hand-held market. Businesses know this. Google and Apple are competing for the mobile advertising crown and smart phones are selling in big numbers. A prediction I read yesterday places the smart phone at 50% of the market in the USA by the end of 2011.

Students are going mobile. Schools need to pay attention to this and get relevant information to students for reasons including: communication, retention, community, feedback, etc. When should this be done? ASAP.

For the past two years Sarah Lawrence College has polled its student body about a number of technical items including cell phones, texting, etc.

Looking at some of the highlights (significant increases, +6% or more, are bolded)…

Responses (of apprx 1500 total both years):

  • 2008-2009 – 565
  • 2009-2010 – 332

Computer ownership:

  • 2008-2009 – 98%
  • 2009-2010 – 97%

Cellphone ownership:

  • 2008-2009 – Cell phone 80% Phone in residence (aka landline) 1% Both 16%
  • 2009-2010 – Cell phone 80% Phone in residence (aka landline) 1% Both 12%

Carrier:

  • 2008-2009 – Verizon 41% Cingular 35%
  • 2009-2010 – Verizon 41% Cingular 32%

Receiving text messages:

  • 2008-2009 – Once/day 13% Several times/day 62% Several times/week 12%
  • 2009-2010 – Once/day 8% Several times/day 73% Several times/week 6%

Sending text messages:

  • 2008-2009 – Once/day 16% Several times/day 58% Several times/week 10%
  • 2009-2010 – Once/day 9% Several times/day 70% Several times/week 5%

Email checked via cell phone:

  • 2008-2009 – Y –  22% N – 73%
  • 2009-2010 – Y – 30% N – 61%

Web accessed via cell phone:

  • 2008-2009 – Y – 23% N – 72%
  • 2009-2010 – Y – 32% N – 60%

Non-iPhone

  • 2008-2009 – 8%
  • 2009-2010 – 14%

iPhone

  • 2008-2009 – 12%
  • 2009-2010 – 13%

iPod touch ownership:

  • 2008-2009 – 10%
  • 2009-2010 – 17%

Reviewing the data, our students are sending and receiving multiple text messages per day via their smart phone or iPod Touch and checking their email and browsing the web more using hand held devices. This is not outlier data. Next year I anticipate even higher use of text messaging and hand held web browsing.

What does this mean to SLC and to you (other institutions and companies)?

Now, yes now, is the time to begin implementing technologies that will be, at least, one-way communication with your constituents. They want to know what is going on and expect that we will provide the solution.

Emergency/weather notification systems are all the fad in the academic world. But students want more. They WANT to know more, to stay connected. An opt-in service is a best bet because there is no possible way to know what every student does/does not want.

I have just re-initiated my research and would love to hear from those of you who have found great SMS tools (for academia) – comments welcome.

I could say more and defend the trend but the title says it all. What are you/we doing to get our information mobile?

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