2023 Students and Technology Report: Flexibility, Choice, and Equity in the Student Experience

2023 Students and Technology Report: Flexibility, Choice, and Equity in the Student Experience


Over the past several decades, EDUCAUSE has conducted research on students' experiences with IT and technology in higher education. This has been, and will continue to be, an important area of inquiry for our organization as we strive to support the leaders and decision makers and practitioners tasked with supporting those very IT and technology-based student experiences.

While this research is evergreen for EDUCAUSE, each year brings new questions to explore according to the shifting and evolving landscape of higher education and the institutions it comprises. This year is no different in its uniqueness, marked as it is by the regional, national, global, and also deeply personal circumstances that have come to define life and education in our collective present moment.

What does it mean to be a student now in 2023, on the fading tail of a global pandemic and in the midst of lingering uncertainty about the world, our leaders, our economy, and our own futures within all of it? What do students still need from a postsecondary education now and in that uncertain future, and how can they best go about meeting that need? And, finally, where does technology serve as a fulcrum, for better and for worse, both opening and closing students' paths forward through their educational journeys?

In this study, we draw on data from the EDUCAUSE 2023 Student Survey, representing 1,951 students from across 10 U.S. institutions, to explore some of these questions and offer insights to higher education leaders and decision makers as they consider what these questions might mean at their particular institutions and within their particular communities.

It is our hope that readers will find the insights in this report more than merely interesting. We hope this report inspires institutions to take direct and immediate action, or at the very least to wonder and discuss and explore together what it all might mean for decisions and actions not too far off on the horizon. Each institution's journey from here is uniquely its own, of course, but may this report serve as a common meeting point from which each of those journeys might embark.

This report structures the findings from our student data across three main themes, each representing a key challenge (and opportunity) institutions are going to face now and in the future as they navigate what it means to support their students and structure their educational experiences:

  1. The locationality of education, and specifically balancing engagements and supports between residential and off-campus learners
  2. The role of students as consumers in the educational marketplace, and specifically the power of student choice in how they engage in their educational journeys
  3. The mounting expectations for institutions to offer equitable education, and specifically the importance of assistive technologies and accommodations for students with disabilities and impairments

Key Findings

Across these three sections, we highlight a number of important key findings:

  • Students' perceptions of their technology experiences primarily relate to the quality of their access to the internet, a critical lifestyle amenity that will be of increasing importance to students as they choose their places of residence.
  • The majority of students living off campus lean toward online modalities and hybrid engagements, while the majority of students living on campus lean toward on-site modalities and engagements, preferences that naturally conform to these students' particular lifestyles and circumstances.
  • Students are distinguishing between their own personal preferences and the larger ethical implications of learning modalities and hybrid course models, with a particular emphasis on the importance of giving all students the ability to choose their own modalities of engagement.
  • When students are permitted to choose their own modality for engaging in course activities, they are significantly more satisfied with their hybrid course experiences than students who are not permitted to choose.
  • Students with disabilities and impairments are significantly less satisfied with their technology supports and experiences at their institution, and learning modality preferences in particular may be influenced by needs related to specific types of disability or impairment.

More Student Research Resources

For more information about the 2023 EDUCAUSE research about students and technology, visit the research hub.

EDUCAUSE is a higher education technology association and the largest community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education. Technology, IT roles and responsibilities, and higher education are dynamically changing. Formed in 1998, EDUCAUSE supports those who lead, manage, and use information technology to anticipate and adapt to these changes, advancing strategic IT decision-making at every level within higher education. EDUCAUSE is a global nonprofit organization whose members include US and international higher education institutions, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and K–12 institutions. With a community of more than 99,000 individuals at member organizations located around the world, EDUCAUSE encourages diversity in perspective, opinion, and representation. For more information, please visit educause.edu.


© 2023 EDUCAUSE. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Citation for this work
Mark McCormack. 2023 Students and Technology Report: Flexibility, Choice, and Equity in the Student Experience. Research report. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, August 2023.