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Tablets on Campus

February 18, 2014 — Leave a comment


I generally will NOT write anything to support or explain an infographic because by their very nature they should convey all necessary information. If an infographic needs explaining then it isn’t a very good infographic. In this instance I think it is helpful to comment on the validity of the data and statistics that this infographic points to. I went to each of the sources cited in the infographic to confirm that the data was legitimate and to also to confirm that I am passing on a useful resource.

Much of the stats regarding student technology use come from the following three sources:

It must be noted that the Adobe report is not cited directly but Jimmy Daly the Online Content Manager for EdTech Focus on Higher Education cites content from this report in two of the blog posts cited in the infographic. To assure that information being presented is as accurate as possible I strive to rely primarily on original sources and look for infographics that do the same. I also compared this infographic to ECAR Student and Technology 2013 infographic summary from the 2013 ECAR Student and Technology Use Survey and confirmed that the statistics in this infographic are reasonably in line with the ECAR statistics.

It is clear from this infographic and the supporting reports the tablet has become the new tool of choice students are relying on to help them learn in the digital information age.

A few highlights:

1/4 of college students surveyed have a tablet (3 times increase over last year’s survey)

Sixty-three percent of college students believe tablets will replace textbooks in the next five years (15 percent increase over last year’s survey.

More than a third said they intended to buy a tablet sometime in the next six months.

Nearly six in 10 students preferred digital books when reading for class, compared with one-third who said they preferred printed textbooks (a reversal from other surveys)

One must ask: What is academia doing to prepare for this?

Read the full article…

Jason Hiner may be a bit premature in suggesting that the Android tablets have failed but he does point to some very relevant limitations of Android tablets when compared to the iPad. Based on the explosive growth of the Android phones in 2010 many tech commentators expected the Android tablet to at minimum match iPad sales in 2011 but this never happened. Hiner offers the following for reasons for Android tablet lack of success in 2011:

  1. The price
  2. The lack of tablet apps
  3. The enterprise doesn’t trust Android
  4. The 16×9 problem

While I agree these are significant limitations with the Android devices, I also think that you need to take into account the poor battery life, unreliability of the Android OS and apps as well as the fragmented user experience. In the past month two months that I have been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab I have been shocked at how easily I can repeatedly cause applications to crash or freeze, how poor the battery life is not and how long it takes to recharge the Galaxy Tab.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that I don’t trust Android and the Galaxy Tab surfaced on a recent ski trip that my family and I took over the Christmas break. I didn’t want to pack so much so I limited myself to only my laptop and one tablet. I chose my iPad because it was much more reliable and the battery life was so much better. When one is traveling you don’t want to spent time tinkering with a device, you just want it to work.

I won’t go so far as to agree with Hiner and suggest that the Android tablets are a failure I will agree with him that there is a long way to go before they reach the level of functionality and reliability. The sooner they get to this point the better it is for everyone–the more competition there is in the emerging tablet space the more we all win.

The list provided from the Gartner Group is confirmation that the tablet isn’t just a consumer device…it is being used by everyone in some of the most diverse circumstances. The argument for using it education should not be about when but about how we use this useful tool. More specifically the academy needs to start exploring the use of the tablet that goes beyond its obvious functionality as an e-reader.

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I think what I find more surprising than the plummet of interest is that here was any interest to begin with. I was shocked to read that in the first quarter of 2011 46% of people surveyed were interested in a Windows tablet The drop to 25% two quarters latest reveals that there are alternatives that people are moving to. The following comment to the blog really summarizes the consequences of Microsoft’s missed opportunity”

Hey… Microsoft gave us a choice ten years ago. They gave us the Windows tablet amidst much hype and hoopla… and guess what??? The buying public had little interest in it. I know, I actually owned three Windows tablets but I rarely met anyone else who owned one.
Now I own an iPad and it does everything Microsoft’s best effort couldn’t.
I speak for many people when I say that a Windows 8 tablet offers little more than a big yawn. What good is it? What will it’s big advantage be over the little Windows 7 tablet I have that’s basically gathering dust?

This is not 2001. It’s time to move forward. Windows had it’s chance. Time to let the true innovators move us in directions Microsoft failed to see.

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