A must read for all higher education website managers. Jakob Nielsen's research challenges a range of myths around student activity online.
Nielsen's study involved 43 students across 4 countries in Europe and the US. He investigated both task-driven website activity and more casual online behaviour.
Having run usability studies on university websites with over 100 students and school leavers, there's nothing surprising for me here, but it's great to get additional insight from this broad and varied research.
It really shouldn't be a revelation that students are people too. Not some strange breed of tech wizards enraptured by the bells and whistles of flash designs.
They're well educated and not long out of their school years so they do have some particular traits, but they're impatient and task driven just like the rest of us.
College students on the web: User experience guidelines - article by Jakob Nielsen
UPDATE - Nielsen usability report free to University of Edinburgh staff (June 2011)