Tablet ownership among college students triples as digital revolution continues to work its way into education

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Tablets are making quite an impression on some people.  Tablets are not quite a smartphone and not quite a laptop, but they are rather a combination of the two.  Are tablets here for the long haul?  Or are they just the newest fad?

According to a Pearson Foundation Survey, tablets are more than just a trend, particularly among younger generations. The survey notes that tablet ownership among college students and college-bound high school seniors has more than tripled since a year ago, with even more students saying they plan to purchase one within the next six months.

Of course, tablets are still pretty new to the academic scene but students seem to be interested in them mainly for the ease of use and the fact they are so light compared to actual textbooks.

“I prefer a tablet over a laptop for portability,” said Cheryl Jordan, a CSUN student studying biology.  “I also use it as an e-reader using the Kindle app.”

The survey also found that 90 percent of college students who are tablet owners said that tablets are valuable for educational purposes.  Also, more than 60 percent of the students said tablets help them study more efficiently and perform better in their classes.

Around 60 percent of students that took the survey also believe that tablets will effectively replace textbooks within the next five years.

“Technology does not eliminate the need for a college store, it simply means that an evolution is taking place,” said Amy Berger, director of the Matador Bookstore, when asked if she thinks tablets will replace books within the next five years.

Some students, such as Nick Mariduena, a CSUN senior studying bio-chemistry, shares the belief that books will be eliminated altogether in the years to come.
“Digital copies of everything will take over,”  he said. His prediction stems from the advantages tablets have over laptops. With the ability to easily draw on a tablet screen, tablets have proven to be more versatile, and laptops just don’t compare, Mariduena said.

A little over 80 percent of students also believe that tablets encourage students to buy digital textbooks instead of print textbooks.

Layla Najibfard, a CSUN senior studying biology, finds that not only is her iPad great for school work but she also uses it for entertainment purposes as well, mainly reading books.

“Reading books is a lot easier to read on a tablet,” she said.  “But when taking notes from books I prefer the real thing to highlight and take notes.”

The Pearson survey found that almost 60 percent of college students prefer a digital format when reading books for fun.  According to the survey, this is a reversal from last year’s study when more students preferred print over digital.

Abdulaziz Alhekeir, a CSUN freshman studying engineering management, finds that his tablet and his laptop have specific purposes when it comes to his school work.

“I like the ease of access when it comes to the tablet, so I bring that to school,” he said.  “But for writing papers I find it a lot easier to use my laptop.”

The Pearson Foundation, an independent non-profit organization which aims to promote literacy and learning, surveyed over 1,400 students nationally about the usage of tablets. The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive.

Amongst the students interviewed, most of them seemed to think the iPad was the best out of all of the tablets that are available.

Willie Lopez, supervisor at Best Buy in Westwood, says that by far the iPad is the most popular tablet on the market.

“The iPad is the clear leader in tablet popularity,”  Lopez said.  “Every time we get a shipment of the newest iPad we quickly sell out within a day or two.”

He feels that Apple’s popularity is the reason why iPads seem to sell so much better than say Amazon’s Fire Tablet or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, even though the latter have a better price point.

“More publishers are making their textbooks available in an electronic format,” Lopez said.  “As this trend continues I do see tablets replacing books in the next year or two.”


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