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U Southern Miss To Distribute Android Tablets to Students

The University of Southern Mississippi will distribute Android-based tablets to outstanding students as part of a pilot program to determine the impact of the devices on academic achievement.

For the pilot, 1,000 students enrolled in the university's Honors College, McNair Scholars post-baccalaureate program, and the Southern Style leadership group, among others, will receive Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets. The pilot will launch in the fall and will include students from the main campus in Hattiesburg and Southern Miss Gulf Coast, which includes a Long Beach campus and various offsite teaching centers.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1runs on a dual-core 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and features a 1,280 x 800 (WXGA), 149 PPI capacitive TFT touchscreen capable of displaying 16 million colors. It runs the Google Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) operating system and includes 1 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage in its base configuration. Other hardware features include:

  • Front and rear cameras (2 megapixel and 3 megapixel) with rear flash;
  • 720p capture and 1080p playback capabilities;
  • 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi (802.11a/b/g/n);
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
  • USB 2.0; and
  • Stereo minijack.

The devices will be loaded with Blackboard Mobile Learn, the mobile version of Blackboard's flagship learning management system. Mobile Learn is designed to mimic the full functionality of the Web-based Learn platform, including two-way communication between students and teachers, access to gradebooks, blog access and commenting, discussion board participation, and student-to-student e-mail communications. It supports Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices and is free for some WiFI devices.

"Tablets are like the Swiss Army Knife to academic excellence. By leveraging this new technology, we are committed to transforming the way students interact, engage and learn in the classrooms," said Homer Coffman, CIO at Southern Miss, in a statement released today. "The iTech department at Southern Miss is continually challenging itself to support emerging technology and find new ways to put information into the students' hands."

According to Samsung: "The Samsung tablets will transform the educational space as students and professors share the same hardware and software, enabling them to experience and share audio, video, and other learning materials to accomplish classroom goals. The devices will also aid to reduce the amount of paper used in the classroom and provide students with easy access to e-books and other interactive learning materials."

The University of Southern Mississippi serves about 14,000 undergraduates and 3,100 graduate students and offers more than 180 degree programs.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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