Student Device Preferences for Online Multimedia

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

It is important to understand what devices students prefer to use to access online course materials. This session shares the results of a study that examined 1,991 online students’ device preferences for accessing online course sites, viewing video content, and learning with simulations and games.


Mary Ellen Dello Stritto is the Director of Research for Oregon State University Ecampus, where she designs and conducts research studies on online teaching and learning, provides support for faculty research on online education, and produces tools to promote research literacy. Her background is in psychology with a specialization in quantitative methodologies, survey design, and statistical analysis.

Extended Abstract

As multimedia development efforts continue to become more important in online learning, gathering data regarding student preferences helps us learn more about how to focus multimedia development efforts where they are most needed. Mobile development, in particular, is a growing trend that can be very time consuming and expensive.  Thus, it is important to determine the best strategy and device for the media and online student population. This session will share the results from a newly released report from Ecampus at Oregon State University that examined student device preferences of 1,991 students in online courses. The goal of this study was to gather information from students to determine their preferred device to view/interact with multimedia in their online courses. While LMS analytics data can be helpful to get a broad overview of what students are using, this study included a deeper exploration into why the student participants are using a particular device and if the device is actually their preference or is its used due to personal circumstances.

The session will begin with an interactive activity in which participants will be sorted by the electronic devices that they have in their possession. For example, participants who have only phones will be put into one group while those with tablets and laptops will be put into other groupings. Groups will be asked to discuss the following question: What is the most important device to your work? (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone). Participants will be encouraged to discuss the reasons why they chose their particular device and each group will be asked to briefly report what they learned about each other. This exercise will be used as context for sharing the results of the student device preference study.

The session will include a presentation of the study results including: 1) the range of devices students are using, 2) the devices they prefer for accessing their online course sites, viewing video content, and learning with simulations and games. The presentation will include students’ reasons why they prefer the devices they do and if they consider those devices ideal for viewing video and multimedia content. Finally, the presentation will conclude with key takeaways from the study including how the findings could be useful for faculty and multimedia developers.

Participants will learn: 1) about the device preferences of those in attendance as well as the online students in the study, 2) the reasons behind student device preferences for online course material, 3) about students’ perceptions of ideal device platforms, and 4) for what purposes students would be likely to purchase new devices.

Participants will be provided a link to the full study report at