NORMAN — University of Oklahoma freshman Emily Morris sat in a booth in Oklahoma Memorial Union on Thursday afternoon with earphones in her ears and eyes fixed to her laptop screen.
Although Morris was studying, there wasn't a textbook in sight.
Morris, 19, is one of a generation of college students that a recent study shows are increasingly hitting the books without actually cracking a book.
According to the 2012 edition of the Educause Center for Applied Research's Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, college students' use of technology for academic purposes continued to grow last year.
According to the study, the number of students who used e-books and e-textbooks nearly tripled between 2010 and 2012, growing from 24 percent of respondents to 70 percent of respondents. Google and Blackboard, an online education management system, topped the list of websites students said they couldn't live without.
Also among the study's findings was a sizable increase in students' use of e-portfolios. In 2012, 52 percent of students reported using the portfolios, which are an online collection of documents, including work the student has produced.
When she studies, Morris generally listens to music on Spotify to drown out crowd noise in the student union. She reviews handwritten notes from class and reads over materials posted online, she said.
If she comes across something she doesn't understand, she doesn't refer back to her textbook, she said. She Googles it.
Morris used an e-textbook in a history class at OU. Although the text itself was identical to the physical textbook, it was searchable, which made it easier to find the sections she needed. It also was more convenient when she went to class.
“It was nice to not have to carry around my textbook,” she said. “They can be really heavy and big.”
Barbara Villgeratter, a senior from Graz, Austria, said she thinks most of her professors make effective use of technology. Generally, the most advanced piece of technology she sees in the classroom is a PowerPoint lecture, she said. But professors often post recorded lectures online, which gives her a good way to review lectures later on.