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Surprise: Even Today, Not All Students are Tech Savvy

How do you define a "tech savvy" student today?

According to survey results released by the Economic & Social Research Council, being "tech savvy" is a complex description that does not only cover using a laptop and a smartphone anymore. And by that definition, there are apparently significant gaps, especially between generations and between students and teachers.

The study, which covered more than 2,000 first year students at five English universities, found that a mobile phone is the most common tech equipment today, with 97.8 percent of all students claiming to own such a device. 83.2 percent of all students also mentioned the cell phone as the as the device they would miss most if they did not have access to it. 77.4 percent said they owned a laptop and 38.1 percent owned a desktop computer.

70.1 percent of students said that their ability to access a computer was enough to "meet their computing needs".

Engagement in social networking is now also included in the tech savvy category and it is clear that it is an activity that has its traction among younger students. 95.7 percent of students aged 20 and younger have used social networking, while only 21.5 percent of those 35 and older have done so. Interestingly, however, younger students do not necessarily use access to new technologies to enhance their learning ability. The study found that they use information and communication technologies for social life and leisure more often while older students were more likely to use them for study purposes.

Also, despite the fact that the praised new world of mobile devices would enable students to learn anywhere and anyplace, they still study in the same places they did decades ago: They continue to study in their bedrooms, the university library or other dedicated study spaces, the study found.

The least likely tech engagement areas were contributing to blogs (21.5 percent) and wikis (12.1 percent) or participating in a virtual world (2 percent).

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    apone , April 25, 2012 4:18 PM
    - Honestly I'm not surprised. However in my experience, many people think they're tech savvy just because they have a Macbook and an iPhone and can't be bothered to learn and understand anything else in the technology world that isn't Apple-related. What also compounds the issue is that the Macbook and iPhone platforms offer a sense of perceived operational simplicity which contradicts the complexity of emerging technology.

    - Also let's face reality, most people think it's a bad thing to be labeled as a tech geek or nerd so the idea is to appear tech savvy but also look cool (ahem Apple) in order to be socially accepted.

  • 20 Hide
    hoof_hearted , April 25, 2012 3:59 PM
    Does ones ability to play Angry Birds count as tech savy?
  • 18 Hide
    lmychajluk , April 25, 2012 4:04 PM
    Forget how to Twit or post pics on Facebook, I'd define "Tech Savvy" as anyone who can explain the basic principle behind the internal combustion engine.
Other Comments
    Display all 31 comments.
  • 20 Hide
    hoof_hearted , April 25, 2012 3:59 PM
    Does ones ability to play Angry Birds count as tech savy?
  • 7 Hide
    burnley14 , April 25, 2012 4:04 PM
    Quote:
    despite the fact that the praised new world of mobile devices would enable students to learn anywhere and anyplace, they still study in the same places they did decades ago

    Learning and studying are two very different things. Libraries are places dedicated to read and study, peoples' desks and couches are where they study at home. The "new world of mobile devices" simply allows people to find information at other locations (i.e. learning), but doesn't provide new places to study.
  • 18 Hide
    lmychajluk , April 25, 2012 4:04 PM
    Forget how to Twit or post pics on Facebook, I'd define "Tech Savvy" as anyone who can explain the basic principle behind the internal combustion engine.
  • 8 Hide
    monsta , April 25, 2012 4:06 PM
    Students are more interested in posting pics of their awesomeness on Facebook with their phones , they don't need to be tech savvy to do that
  • 23 Hide
    apone , April 25, 2012 4:18 PM
    - Honestly I'm not surprised. However in my experience, many people think they're tech savvy just because they have a Macbook and an iPhone and can't be bothered to learn and understand anything else in the technology world that isn't Apple-related. What also compounds the issue is that the Macbook and iPhone platforms offer a sense of perceived operational simplicity which contradicts the complexity of emerging technology.

    - Also let's face reality, most people think it's a bad thing to be labeled as a tech geek or nerd so the idea is to appear tech savvy but also look cool (ahem Apple) in order to be socially accepted.

  • 0 Hide
    Apple Troll Master , April 25, 2012 4:19 PM
    I work for a Technology training company and deal with network engineers on a daily basis. "SOME" of these guys are Routing and Switching gurus but have NO computer skills what so ever...Baffles the hell out of me. Students are worse. JMO
  • 10 Hide
    drapacioli , April 25, 2012 4:19 PM
    Naturally the library or dorm is still the best place to study; teachers still want book sources in all my reports, and you try studying anywhere else, it's too loud or you're likely to run into friends and lose your focus! You can't exactly study while waiting in line for your coffee, or while driving, or while doing anything that requires even the slightest attention.

    I would define a tech savvy student as one who knows their way around both Windows and Mac, Linux is a plus but is not required, as very few if any public computers utilize linux. Knowledge of MS office or a comparable suite is a must so you can create reports and projects. Basic knowledge of how to diagnose a broken or ill computer will save you a lot of money, and knowing how to perform upgrades will save you the trouble of buying a new machine in your senior year or in graduate school (as long as you bought a good one to begin with). Smartphones, meh. You don't use smartphones in class. Tablets are a joke, you can't take notes quickly and there's not enough screen real estate to do any proper work. Plus the app atmosphere does not fit well with productivity, it's just too casual. Also, know some basic video and audio editing for projects, and photoshop experience never hurts. You can really blow away your teachers when you create professional looking projects, posters, and videos.

    Those are the BASICS for surviving. If you want to excel, learn every part of your computer inside and out, learn to repair laptops (since you'll be using them. Grab an old junk laptop and take it apart, you'll learn fast that way). Keep up with new tech and software that might help you, and know your way around a DOS prompt. Do all this, and you may be able to make some money on the side fixing your "tech savvy" friends' computers.

    Social media does NOT make you tech savvy, anybody can figure out a facebook page if they try hard enough. And if they can't, they don't belong on a computer period.
  • 0 Hide
    fulle , April 25, 2012 4:24 PM
    Insightful article. Almost all college students have a cell phone, computer, and use social media? How enlightening! And, it was a huge stunner to hear that they study in the library, their bedrooms, and dedicated study areas. That is quite strange.

    When I was in college, I had no phone, since I preferred to drop in on people unannounced instead. Facebook? Twitter? Heck no! I made people paper letters instead. Much more thoughtful. I didn't have a computer, because I preferred researching reports based off the 2 related books I could find in the local library. What kind of research requires more than the opinions of 2 books? None I say. And as far as typing something up and printing it? No way. I went to the dean to force all my teachers to accept my handwritten reports, written in cursive with black pen. Sure, it wasted an absurd amount of time hand writing the reports, instead of just typing them, but they looked so pretty and formal the old fashioned way... that I just had to go to the dean and be all like "INJUSTICE! Mah oppressive teachers are all telling me I must submit my work in .doc format! This is discrimination of some kind, and I sue!" And she was like: "Whatever, weirdo, fine."

    As far as where to study? I don't know about you guys, but I found studying in the middle of I-25 pretty relaxing. Just propped a chair up in the middle of the interstate there, tossed in some of my earbuds for my Sony Walkman, and just chillaxed, you know? Sure, I'd have to grip my books tight to make sure they don't get blown away by a passing vehicle, and occasionally I'd have to escape arrest for "endangering the public" and "criminal mischief".... but, where else was I supposed to study? My room?


  • 0 Hide
    jaber2 , April 25, 2012 4:25 PM
    You mean to tell me that being able to take a photo of my self while driving and posting it to my facebook while at same time making each stop for the riders on the bus is not considered tech savey? well I will need to update my resume then, after next stop.
  • 1 Hide
    dr1337 , April 25, 2012 4:25 PM
    jajajaja, "tech savvy" probably the majority of people that refer to themselves as "tech savvy" turn out not be as "savvy" as they thought they were.
  • 4 Hide
    Northwestern , April 25, 2012 4:29 PM
    You don't need statistics to prove this. The "tech-savvy" students I work with probably cannot tell the difference between a HDD and a SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    syrious1 , April 25, 2012 4:30 PM
    Thank SJ for that, everything is so simple on a mac, you just pay people to fix it for you instead of actually learning.
  • 6 Hide
    curiosul , April 25, 2012 4:33 PM
    northwesternYou don't need statistics to prove this. The "tech-savvy" students I work with probably cannot tell the difference between a HDD and a SSD.


    assuming they know what ANY of them means ...
    ASSUMING (too much) ...
  • -3 Hide
    tmshdw , April 25, 2012 4:38 PM
    apone- Honestly I'm not surprised. However in my experience, many people think they're tech savvy just because they have a Macbook and an iPhone and can't be bothered to learn and understand anything else in the technology world that isn't Apple-related. What also compounds the issue is that the Macbook and iPhone platforms offer a sense of perceived operational simplicity which contradicts the complexity of emerging technology. - Also let's face reality, most people think it's a bad thing to be labeled as a tech geek or nerd so the idea is to appear tech savvy but also look cool (ahem Apple) in order to be socially accepted.


    This and other comments of this ilk are the dumbest stuff I have read. What the hell is "tech savvy'?
    A car is a piece of tech. Does one need to be car savvy to drive a car? Tech(nology) is all around us and its only computer/smartphone from android/windows that seems to require inordinate 'tech savvy'-ness to operate. And you folks bandy about with useless knowledge that you think is important to know before you can use a device.
    While Apple products are far from perfect they are driving useability by non-"tech savvy" folks which is what should be happening. Just as a car now requires learning how to steer and turn the key for it to be useable and you don't need to know how the engine and fuel injectors and etc work to fully operate a car.
  • 0 Hide
    tmshdw , April 25, 2012 4:47 PM
    syrious1Thank SJ for that, everything is so simple on a mac, you just pay people to fix it for you instead of actually learning.


    Just as we do with cars. What a wonder! Cars are also "tech" and we don't need to be "car tech savvy". Time to get over it and weane yourself away from useless knowledge unless you want to get into the field as your career (just like car mechanics and card companies).
  • 0 Hide
    syrious1 , April 25, 2012 4:49 PM
    you should at least understand the fundamental principal, see that's the point exactly, everything is so easy for mac users they stub their nose at stuff they do not understand.

    Technology encompasses a lot more than a simple smartphone or laptop usage.
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , April 25, 2012 5:07 PM
    tmshdwThis and other comments of this ilk are the dumbest stuff I have read. What the hell is "tech savvy'?A car is a piece of tech. Does one need to be car savvy to drive a car? Tech(nology) is all around us and its only computer/smartphone from android/windows that seems to require inordinate 'tech savvy'-ness to operate. And you folks bandy about with useless knowledge that you think is important to know before you can use a device.While Apple products are far from perfect they are driving useability by non-"tech savvy" folks which is what should be happening. Just as a car now requires learning how to steer and turn the key for it to be useable and you don't need to know how the engine and fuel injectors and etc work to fully operate a car.


    I was going to add something like this... While I agree with you about being "tech savvy" is not such an important thing, it does give you an edge in some specific areas where you can put this knowledge to good use.

    For example, you're not required to know what an ADD operation in assembler does to program something in Java, but it will definitely give you an advantage when putting together a solution (arch/design + programming), making it more efficient, faster or easier to read.

    Being "tech savvy" is most definitely not a requisite for something (driving, programming, construction, etc), but between someone who knows what's going on "under the hood" in what it's supposed to do, usually gives better results in the long run than someone who doesn't know, or even worse, doesn't care to know.

    Cheers!
  • 5 Hide
    A Bad Day , April 25, 2012 5:09 PM
    My definition of tech-savvy is someone who understands that buying purely based on price and features without researching is ill-advised, legit anti-virus programs don't kill hard drives, computers are susceptible to to overheating and therefore need regular cleaning, Windows updates and Service Packs are not viruses, WPA2 encryption is essential to wireless security and preventing sudden bandwidth crashes because an idiot decided to download 1 TB of adult-content from your router, poor security often leads to a slow computer and a stolen identity, software require regular updating or replacing, and can use Google to diagnose basic problems.

    Sadly, the list of everything that a tech-savvy person should avoid, doesn't apply to my family...
  • 1 Hide
    apone , April 25, 2012 5:17 PM
    @ tmshdw

    - First of all, what I mean by "tech savvy" includes computers, smartphones, tech gadgets, anything and everything that socially labels someone as a tech "geek" or "nerd'. Second of all, no one is saying you have to be car savvy to drive a car or adopt a similar mentality for other subjects. Third of all, if you actually understand my reasoning, you would have realized my point which is that many people have a false sense of reality about being tech savvy just because they own Apple products.

    - Not trying to bash Apple, but it seems they're a catalyst for people perceiving they suddenly know the industry.

    - Also I agree with syrious1, taking the time to learn and understand the fundamentals and "useless" stuff can help make educated decisions. Case in point, as a car guy myself, I would hands-down pick up a V6 Ecoboost Ford F-150 (over its Triton V8) because I know the Ecoboost V6 has more horsepower, torque, and better MPG even though it has a smaller displacement than the V8 option.
  • 0 Hide
    del35 , April 25, 2012 5:25 PM
    Tehch savvy and the popularity of Apple amongst students are contradictory trends. Tech savvyness is probably inversely related to the probability of owning Apple products.
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