There is no doubt that technology is changing the face of higher education. Very few students are reliant upon textbooks, encyclopedias, and even regular old-school computer systems. These days, students have found a new way to cultivate and supplement their leaning process. The marker of the technological revolution in higher education is the tablet. But while it is evident that there is a shift to tablet use, many are failing to raise the questions of just how popular has the tablet become, what benefits students are gaining from tablet use, and what tablet use may ultimately lead to. Luckily, these issues will be raised and discussed below.
Ever since Steve Jobs released the first Apple Tablet in 2010, the tablet has only seen an increase in sales to college students. In one interactive chart that reviews tablet use, it is noted that tablets have grown from nearly 20 million in sales in 2011 to over 104 million in sales in 2013. It is projected that in 2014, this 104 million in sales will hold strong. In addition, throughout these years, the use of tablets among high school and college students has tripled. Every trend has something that drives it, and when it comes to higher education, there is actually a great deal behind why college students are turning to tablets rather than other forms of technology.
Higher Education in the Digital Age
Every college student can relate to the pain of purchasing a $100 text book online, and that price is at a good deal. These days though, more and more universities are beginning to digitalize their textbooks, making them available on tablets and laptops that students easily carry around with them through campus. According to an article by USA today, the switch from traditional textbooks to tablets has a profound effect upon student learning. By digitalizing textbooks, students are able to easily interact with the text, highlight material, take notes, and they are even more likely to take their textbook to class because it doesn’t come in the form of a heavy 5-10 pound text book. However, while many universities are beginning to create digital forms of textbooks, this does not mean that traditional books will go away. The reason behind this is that not everyone has access to tablets and some still prefer traditional forms of text.
How the Shift is Benefiting the College Student
When it comes to tablet use and its incorporation onto college campuses, digital textbooks are not the only benefit that many students enjoy from. For example, studies show that students that use tablets in higher education have better study habits, show greater performance, and understand their course material better. For example, in a study conducted by The Pearson Foundation, it was found that 86% of college students claim that tablets help them study better, while 76% cite that it has helped them perform better in class. What lies behind these statistics is perhaps the ability of the tablet to create a more interactive learning system. Students are able to easily follow along with their professors, access information without a problem, and even create material for their courses to supplement the material that is taught to them.
Apart from student benefits, professors also are noticing that the tablet is affecting their style of teaching. While conducting lectures, professors can easily access content on the tablet, organize their materials for lectures, and they can multitask more easily. In addition to this, educators can keep track of which documents their students open, how many students reviewed a document, and who is using what materials to enhance their classroom learning.
The ubiquity of tablet use on college campuses is only expected to grow, and there are a few reasons behind this expectation. First, statistics show that more students are opting to use tablets rather than other forms of communication. With more students doing so, colleges and the educational system are going to need to adapt to their needs. Next, with the rising demand of tablet use comes the need of educators and book publishers to adapt to the changing face of textbooks. If more students are deciding upon using digital text books, then the universities will need to do so also. Lastly, the benefits that educators and students derive from tablet use are profoundly effective in the classroom. Learning has gone from a boring and stiff endeavor to something that is far more technology driven, enjoyable, interactive for everyone.