The future is mobile, as more than half of college students pursuing their education online use mobile devices to complete their coursework, revealed a recent survey.

The report, titled “Online College Students 2016: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences”, found that up to 59 percent of the survey’s respondents use a mobile device, such as a mobile phone or tablet, to do their classwork.

Susan Aldridge, president of Drexel University Online, told U.S. News Education that the findings were not surprising, as she has been observing the trend among the school’s students over the past few years.

“We have witnessed a significant increase, for our online students, in the number of students who are utilizing mobile devices to review lectures, materials, documents in advance,” she said.

Even before beginning their studies, many prospective online learners said they used mobile devices to conduct research about where to apply.

The study’s co-author and chief academic officer at the Learning House, Dave Clinefelter, added: “There’s a substantial number of students, a high percentage I thought, that were using mobile devices.”

Another trend noted by researchers was the fact that the average age of online students is getting younger, which may account for the rise in mobile device usage for educational purposes among them.

The study found that the average age fell to 29 for online undergrads, and to 33 for online grad students – down from 34 and 35 in 2012, respectively.

“Online education is not age-related as we once thought,” said Carol Aslanian, president and founder of Aslanian Market Research and a co-author of the study.

“Students of any age are turning to online education because it offers the flexibility, convenience, and acceleration they need to gain their credentials as fast as they can,” she remarked.

Compared to past studies, the respondents for this survey were more likely to be single, have fewer to no children, and earn lower wages, particularly those at undergraduate level.

The report’s authors said the increase in younger online students was probably due to two factors: the economic pressure to earn money and gain experience while going to school, and increasing familiarity with online courses. 

The study, conducted by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House, involved 1,500 prospective, current, and recently graduated online students, both at undergraduate and graduate level.

Among the other key findings reported in the study are:

  • Online students name cost as the most important deciding factor when choosing an institute to study at.
  • Students preferred having access to a physical campus nearby.
  • Prospective students go through a quick selection process, selecting their school in four weeks or less, with only up to three schools being considered.

Image via Wikimedia Commons 

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