In higher education, tablet adoption is soaring. It’s not surprising, considering that younger consumers tend to be earlier adopters of new technology.
According to a 2011 Pearson Education survey, more than 70 percent of college students and college-bound high school seniors are interested in owning their own tablet device, with nearly 20 percent intending to purchase a tablet in the next six months.
For students who already own tablets, more than 75% of survey responders believe tablets help them perform better in class.
Providing mobile technology like tablets may prove to be a competitive advantage for colleges and universities. At Seton Hall University in New Jersey, IT leaders started the Mobile Computing Program which distributed 400 tablets to students and faculty in their science, honors and business leadership programs, pre-loaded with Microsoft Office and Bluetooth wireless capabilities.
Stephen G. Landry, the CIO at Seton Hall, believes “tablets [are] the next wave of technology to implement to support teaching methods and learning outcomes.
The director of educational innovation at Texas-based Abilene Christian University, Bill Rankin, says “the power of mobility comes not only from the ability to access information, but also from the ability to create it.” And for his university, he says the results of their tablet initiatives have simply been “staggering.”
As more colleges and universities invest in tablets for their students and faculty, the state of mobility in higher education is moving from the pilot phase to implementation.
For most institutions, this means developing an educational plan for integrating them into the college or university experience itself—promoting mobile apps that support the curricula, simplifying administrative processes and improving communication across general campus life.
Currently, most of the tablet app success—and certainly the most dramatic success—has been in apps that complement or otherwise augment the school coursework, transforming the way students receive, digest and retain information.
Beyond creating the usual Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, the students at Seton Hall use custom tablet apps to visualize and interact with chemical structures and reactions, wirelessly share their findings with the class and focus on understanding the material, as notes can be transmitted to their tablets from a single Bluetooth-ready device.
For Seton Hall faculty, tablet apps like PDF Annotator make the grading process fast and easy, freeing more time for them to actually teach.
And Bryant University in Rhode Island, isn’t far behind. The school’s natural sciences program is turning classrooms into research labs, as geology students run a seismology program that allows them to assess the distribution, magnitude and tectonic location of earthquakes across the globe.
In environmental classes, students use advanced mapping apps to compare erosion and sea level data from the past to the present, enabling them to understand ecological shifts in a way that only the visually rich tablet format can provide.
With the success tablet apps have seen on the college campus, it’s no surprise that producing them has become a business model. Here are a few noteworthy apps to consider for learning collaboration:
This mobile platform allows faculty and students to post and interact with content in a cloud-like environment that’s easily accessible from a variety of tablet devices.
Dropbox makes it possible for students and faculty to share files in a single, secure repository—all by just dragging and dropping.
This platform turns any tablet device into a hub for viewing digital textbooks, freeing students from hauling their entire semester’s library around.
In addition to general academic support, tablets also bring noticeable benefits to traveling college athletes.
At Northern Michigan University, student athletes are constantly on the move during their athletic seasons, so the school ensures their success with a variety of tablet apps, enabling them to remotely complete and submit coursework, communicate with their professors, view class alerts and conduct research.
Another mobility leader, Carleton University, in Minnesota, offers the Carleton Mobile app that connects students to a school portal, allowing them to view grades, class notifications, university alerts, details on sporting events and maps of the campus.
And Ohio State University goes even further, not only providing students a consummate campus resource for their mobile devices, but also including detailed and easily accessible information on campus and non-campus bus routes, top restaurants and general information about Columbus Ohio, where the university is located.
Moreover, as educational apps continue to reshape the higher learning landscape, faculty are placing great importance on these mobile technologies, and they often make a point of working for universities that accommodate this technological growth.
Are you a technology leader in higher education? Does your college or university already have a tablet app program, or are you considering one? We’d love to hear your experiences. Just comment here!