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Students prefer laptops over tablets

May 5, 2014

tablet-noThe results of a study conducted at Ball State suggest that college students use laptops for school work and phones for all kinds of things, but that tablets are a splurge to consider after graduating and getting a job. Only 29 percent of the students who participated in the survey had a tablet in 2014, a slight drop from earlier. This may indicate that tablet use by college students has plateaued. [Study: College students not embracing tablets as originally predicted]

I am not surprised. Last year, during a class discussion about tablets, I expected students would see them as useful, portable tools. Instead, the consensus was that iPads were for playing games and consuming media.

What now? Do we abandon all of our tablet initiatives and go back to what we were doing before 2010? No. We wait and see how developers make the devices more work-friendly. It’s going to happen. One indicator is the recent release of Microsoft Office for iPad.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2014 9:52 am

    I read this article yesterday and thought it was pretty interesting. It echoes and might explain the results of the study you cited.

    “Young people are growing up on the mobile phone as their primary computing device, which has fundamentally changed the way they use and think about the internet. Tablets are simply unnecessary for them, because the mobile phone doesn’t offer a degraded internet experience, like it does for adults: it is the internet experience.”

    http://www.marco.org/2014/05/05/replacing-the-pc

  2. Kristin Lewis permalink
    May 6, 2014 10:25 am

    My sense is that it is more than just need for better software. I think that most students find that in the end a keyboard is the most efficient way to get real work done. I can see hybrid options becoming more popular in the future, although not if those come at performance and cost tradeoffs. I have to agree with my students – I haven’t found the perfect niche for my iPad, even this many years in. Like the tablet PC for me, the biggest potential benefit that I find is a way to take digital notes during meetings etc. (I don’t like typing on a laptop during meetings). But that could be accomplished in other ways (live scribe, scanning a paper notebook etc.)

  3. Chris Clark permalink*
    May 6, 2014 10:46 am

    For a growing number of people, “real work” doesn’t require a lot of typing. When they are out and about it may involve capturing notes and ideas, images and videos. They want easy access to “stuff” like work files, web data, books, videos, etc. Back in the office or residence hall, they probably need fancier technology to manipulate and create more complex material.

    I don’t see this as either everyone uses laptops or everyone uses tablets. It’s clear that lots of us prefer using a tablet as a portable work device. I thought it was interesting that the Ball State study seemed to say that 30% was low for tablet ownership. Four years in and nearly 1/3 of students are using them? It took laptops a lot longer to become that popular.

    I’m not saying tablets are the answer to everything, but I am convinced that something like a tablet will be an important piece of the shape of things to come.

  4. Kristin Lewis permalink
    May 8, 2014 12:18 pm

    Good point Chris. I would love to see more options in the tablet/laptop market. Oh wait. That’s the HP1100 I owned 8 years ago. :)

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