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By the Numbers: Digital Destiny, Differences, and Distraction



It’s indisputable that computer technology is remaking the landscape of what’s possible in higher education. But despite its grounding in binary code, digital technology’s role at colleges and universities often floats in a zone of subjectivity and contingency.

  • 20.9% of students’ class time, on average, is used on a digital device for non-class purposes.*

  • 62% of administrators said that online courses can achieve outcomes of the same quality as in-person courses; 17% of faculty agreed.***

  • 34% of faculty said that their course materials would be mostly digital by 2018.****

  • 85% of high school students said they wanted to take the majority of their college courses in person.

  • Only 6% said they would be in favor of taking half, most, or all of their classes online.**



* McCoy, Bernard R. 2016. “Digital Distractions in the Classroom Phase II: Student Classroom Use of Digital Devices for Non-Class Related Purposes.” Journal of Medical Education (7) 1: 5–32.

** ACT and Art & Science Group, LLC. 2016. “Prospective Students Lack Interest in Online Learning.” StudentPOLL, February.

*** Straumsheim, Carl, Scott Jaschik, and Doug Lederman. 2015. The 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes Toward Technology. Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed and Gallup.

**** Green, Kenneth C. 2016. Going Digital: Faculty Perspectives on Digital and OER Course Materials. Chicago, IL: Independent College Bookstore Association.

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