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Report: Students Believe Tablets Will Transform the Future of Higher Ed

The vast majority of undergraduate and graduate students believe tablets will transform the future of higher education, but most still rely on laptops and smartphones for school work, according to a new study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson.

The report, "Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 2014," surveyed 1,288 students enrolled at 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, universities and graduate schools throughout the United States and weighted the results to be representative of the college student population in the United States. The goal of the survey was "to better understand how college students use mobile technology for learning," according to Pearson.

According to the report, 81 percent of college students agree that "tablets will transform the way college students learn in the future," 82 percent agree that "tablets will encourage students to buy digital textbooks instead of print," and 74 percent agree that "tablets make learning more fun." However, only 45 percent of students use a tablet regularly, whereas 89 percent use a laptop and 83 percent use a smartphone regularly.

"After four years of conducting this study, we have learned valuable lessons from students on how they use, and want to use, technology for learning," said Seth Reichlin, senior vice president of market research for Pearson Higher Education, in a prepared statement. "College students have high expectations for tablets to transform learning, but our findings show that laptops are still the most commonly used device for school work."

Other key findings from the report include:

  • 54 percent of college students use a single mobile device during a typical school day;
  • 9 percent use three or more devices during a typical school day;
  • 89 percent use a laptop every week for school work;
  • 56 percent use a smartphone every week for school work;
  • 33 percent use a tablet every week for school work;
  • 96 percent have wireless Internet access at home; and
  • 91 percent have wireless Internet access at school.

Although students see the potential for tablets to transform higher education in the future, they have some specific requirements in mind for those tablets: Students prefer 10-inch tablets with separate keyboards for completing school work.

The full report, "Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 2014," is available as a free PDF download from Pearson's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at

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