Tech Watch (Mobile Devices)

2013 Mobile Technology Survey Shows Surge in K-12 Adoptions

The use of mobile technologies continues to impact many aspects of modern life, and the classroom is no exception. A July report released by Interactive Educational Systems and Design (IESD) in collaboration with STEM Market Impact, LLC underlined this rapid rise of mobile technologies in the educational marketplace. The report took into account the survey responses of more than 450 district leaders, and focused on current and projected mobile adoption trends in the K-12 environment.

Some of the issues covered in the report include which types of apps educators see as most beneficial, the price educators are willing to pay for apps, challenges faced when implementing mobile technologies and the current level of adoption of mobile. More than half of the report’s survey respondents noted that mobile technologies had been adopted in at least 25 percent of the schools in their district, while 15 percent stated that they had plans to adopt the technologies within the next two years. While very few respondents reported having a 1-to-1 ratio of mobile devices to students, a majority of them stated they would like to achieve that goal in the future.

In addition to covering more general adoption trends, the report also includes responses about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) learning models. The report found several policies and plans in place regarding current and future use of the BYOD model in school districts. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported that their districts currently had BYOD plans in development with 21 percent already encouraging students to bring their own devices to school. Fifteen percent of respondents said their district prohibits BYOD practices, while 18 percent indicated that the policy was determined at the classroom-level.

iPad leads the charge of mobile devices adopted for the classroom

When asked which mobile technologies that administrators or leaders currently provided or planned to provide for their students in the future, Apple’s iPad came out on top, being noted by 81 percent of the respondents. Google’s Chromebook was the second most frequently mentioned at 31 percent.

“The data show that the adoption of mobile technologies is growing in U.S. K-12 districts and while it’s no surprise that iPads top the list of adopted devices, Google Chromebooks are growing in market share,” says Daylene Long, founder of STEM Market Impact.

While the report highlighted a marketplace battle between Apple and Google, 27 percent of respondents said they would use whatever the student provided as part of a BYOD model. Seventy-one percent of the survey’s respondents also reported a high level of interest among district leaders to provide students with a device, regardless of the brand.

The challenges and rewards of classroom adoption

Although the report found mobile technology adoption to be growing in the classroom at an unprecedented rate, it also highlighted that there are several device management and staff training challenges that could hinder the process. Teacher knowledge and experience, along with a lack of access to technology training and resources were two of the most commonly cited concerns among school and media leaders. Some respondents also reported that issues like Wi-Fi connectivity could harm their overall ability to successfully adopt.

If school districts are able to negotiate such challenges, the potential for a customized educational experience will increase greatly. A majority of respondents felt that the greatest benefit mobile technologies offered was the ability to personalize a student’s learning in a way that would keep them engaged. The flexibility of available formats and low cost of ownership were also noted as features that are important to teachers and students.

As a result of their flexibility, the planned uses of in-class mobile devices varied greatly among survey respondents. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed planned to use the devices as platforms for digital textbooks, while 51 percent said they would like students to utilize them as tools to create documents, images and videos.

The future market for mobile devices

IESD and STEM’s report found that a majority of respondents whose districts hadn’t yet adopted mobile devices planned to within the next one to two years. With this projected growth on the horizon, many business leaders are looking for new ways to appeal to the educational marketplace. “The educational technology landscape is changing quickly with unprecedented strong demand for tablets and mobile devices. Business leaders need current and relevant data to develop a well-thought-out strategy for this growing market opportunity,” says Lillian Kellogg, vice president of Client Services, Education Networks of America.

The full report can be found by visiting www.stemreports.com.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of School Planning & Management.

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