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Internet Marketing and Web Development in Higher Education and other tidbits…

How Tablets Will Change Higher Ed

21 Jun 2012

written by Mykel Nahorniak

How Tablets Will Change Higher Ed

Tablets are set to change computing with intuitive operating systems, web browsing, access to hundreds of thousands of apps, and even the option to attach a keyboard. From the start, we knew tablets would be big—they’re more mobile than laptops but easier to interact with than phones. It hardly needs to be said (but we’ll say it anyway) that Localist performs well on tablets of all makes, but let’s not kid ourselves: when we say “tablets,” we mean the iPad. Apple’s tablet represents 89% of the US tablet market!

Tablets are being adopted at an impressive rate, and tablet purchases are expected to outpace smartphone purchases over the next two years. Tablet ownership among college students has correspondingly skyrocketed and a Pearson Foundation survey found that it has tripled from a year ago. One-quarter of college students currently own a tablet.

Your school should be preparing to incorporate tablets into campus life and the classroom. Below we offer some data and opinions on what college student tablet use looks like and what it means for your campus.

Why Tablets are Not the Same as Mobile

The way people use mobile phones is fundamentally different from how they use tablets—at least as the technology stands now. Your school should not approach the two devices with the same strategy.

Here’s the deal: according to a study performed last year by Nielsen, 59% of smartphone owners use their devices while shopping and running errands, and 47% use their devices while commuting (let’s hope they take public transit). The time distribution of their usage is all over the place, chopped into 10 and 20% chunks.

On the other hand, only 21% of tablet owners use their devices while shopping, and only 20% use the devices while commuting. Indeed, tablet owners spend a majority of their time on the devices when they’re either watching TV or lying in bed.

Applications and outreach methods designed for phones should be inherently mobile—taking advantage of knowing someone is out and about. For tablets, however, it’s a good bet that someone will want to explore your entire website while they’re sitting in bed—not just a small mobile version of it. Instead of developing a whole new app for tablets, ensure your web properties perform well on tablets as they are.

Tablets Will Transform the Classroom

Ask students and they’ll tell you that tablets and eReaders are going to drastically change the way students learn and interact in the future. The Pearson Foundation study  found that 90% of college student tablet owners believe that the devices are valuable for educational purposes. 77% of all college students, tablet owners or not, think tablets enhance the college learning experience, and 78% believe tablets make learning more fun.

How College Campuses Can Engage with Students Using Tablets

It’s pretty clear that tablets are here to stay, and it’s a safe bet that they’re going to change the way students interact, learn, and engage with material. So what can campuses do to engage with students using tablets and truly embrace the technology? Here are a few ideas:

  • If you’ve read our post on college student internet use, you’ll know that students are the biggest internet surfers around. We bet that a lot of students access your college website on mobile devices. Why not evaluate where your website traffic comes from? If a high volume seems to be from tablets and other mobile devices, ensure your website performs well on those devices—but it’s probably not necessary to develop a whole new app for tablets..
  • Whether your college is lucky enough to be able to provide iPads for incoming students like these schools, or you have simply started to see tablets crop up all over campus, offer workshops for students and faculty on the best education apps or how to best use tablets for educational purposes.
  • Student Affairs offices can use tablets to gauge students’ opinions about events and programs. Tablets are compact and can easily be passed around at an event with a survey site loaded and ready for students to answer questions.

Keeping up with Students

As you can see, there are a variety of ways colleges can engage students through tablets. With tablet use on the rise and college students affirming their preference for digital devices, it’s never been more important to keep up with our students and embrace new technology.

Photo Credit: O iPad 2 Voltou! E pode ser Seu! by sucelloleiloes

The content of this post is licensed: The post is released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license

About the author

Mykel Nahorniak

Myke is the Co-Founder and CEO of Localist. He develops and evolves the strategy of Localist as a product and company. His past experience includes serving as Chief Creative Officer at Betanews, managing media projects at The Baltimore Sun, and leading Web development teams at media companies, non-profits and PR firms.

This post was written by Mykel Nahorniak

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