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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Slow Train to the Future

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student with laptop computer

Tablets are in, computer labs are out, and the cloud is the new hard drive — these are the interwoven threads upon which college students are hoisting themselves into the future of campus computing. So say technology futurists who strive to interpret the inscrutable "digital natives" who now roam undergraduate campuses.

But new data from Student Monitor, a market research firm, unravels those threads a bit. As it turns out, students appear more likely to store data on their local devices and networks, and to use college-owned computers, than they are to save documents in the cloud and eschew communal machines entirely in favor of their own.

The responses to the fall survey came from 1,200 first-time, full-time undergrads on 100 campuses in October. Just over half of respondents (51 percent) said they use college-owned computers at least "a few times a week," with nearly a quarter saying they use the communal machines at least once every day. Only 15 percent said they never use school-owned computers. This despite 95 percent saying they have a computer of their own. Other data in the survey suggest that these young students are not quite in step with the future of campus computing.

From Inside Higher Ed
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