Posts Tagged ‘tablets’

Tablets in 2013

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
iPad with 2013 written on it

2013 will be another big year for tablets

As we move forward into 2013, the tablet market is continuing to grow and diversify. A number of trends are emerging:

Let’s examine these trends further:

Switch to tablets

According to Gartner the final quarter of 2012 saw the global sale of PCs drop by 4.9%.  This was despite the release of Windows 8 (the latest version of Windows), which was expected to boost PC sales in keeping with previous Windows releases.

A number of analysts are suggesting that users are shifting away from PCs and towards tablets. Rather than updating their current computers, users are allowing them to age as most of their time is now spent on a tablet (or smartphone), with only limited time spent on the PC.

The tablet market is diversifying

The phenomenal success of the iPad has seen an explosion in tablet sales since 2010. The iPad leads the way in terms of sales but, in 2012, its market share began to be squeezed by a range of cheaper tablets running the Android operating system. Google’s own Nexus 7 tablet has now overtaken iPad sales in Japan and it is likely that a combination of android running tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Kindle Fire, will combine with the Nexus 7 to have greater overall market share.

Additionally, Microsoft entered the market with its own Surface tablet. The Pro version is aimed at enterprise customers and it will be interesting to see if many business workers make the switch from the iPad.

E-reader sales in decline

Research from IDC indicates a strong decline in the sale of dedicated e-Readers which, in 2012, was around 28%.This is despite increased sales of eBooks. The reason suggested is that consumers are switching from owning an e-reader to owning a tablet which offers multi-functionality (books, media, productivity and games) over single functionality.

So what does this mean for higher education?

Firstly, any long-term planning around learning technology should avoid being device-specific. This is not to say pockets of innovation around highly capable devices like the iPad should not take place, but learning management systems should remain open and device agnostic and, of course, a mobile strategy is imperative.

Additionally, technology markets will continue to be disrupted for many years to come but open standards, such as HTML5 and ePub, offer universities opportunities to future proof their content.

Finally, universities should continuously collect data around student and staff usage. In a “Bring Your Own Device” culture we need to know what devices are connecting to our networks, what content they are accessing and analyse trends.

Neil Martin

NMC Horizon Report – some thoughts: Part 3

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Tablets everywhere

Tablets everywhere

The NMC Horizon Report Higher Education Edition released earlier this month, identified six technologies most likely to go mainstream in Higher Education. The report divided the technologies into three adoption horizons; near term (12 months), mid-term (2-3 years) and far-term (4-5 years):

  • Near-term horizon – mobile apps and tablet computing;
  • Mid-term horizon – game based learning and learning analytics;
  • Far-term horizon – gesture based computing and “The Internet of Things”  (smart objects in the physical world  ubiquitously connected to local networks and the internet).

Today we are going to look at tablets.


It’s hard to believe that the iPad has only been commercially available since March 2010.

The late Steve Jobs introduced it to the world as a new category of device – a tablet – that is neither a mobile phone nor a laptop computer.

Two years later the tablet, and particularly the iPad, has seeped into public consciousness and is making inroads into mainstream adoption in higher education. As the report puts it:

“”Led by the category-defining phenomenon that is the Apple iPad, tablets have earned their own listing in the NMC Horizon report this year, completely distinct from mobiles.”

NMC Horizon Horizon Report, page 9.

Combined with the app ecosystem described in other parts of the report, tablets have a number of qualities that lend themselves to education: Consider the following:

  • Portability – the 10.1 inch Samsung Galaxy, for example, weighs just 590g
  • Instant bootup, long battery life and ubiquitous connectivity
  • The tablet as an ebook reader for interactive electronic textbooks
  • Video and audio playback allowing lecture catch-up and student generated content
  • In-built cameras and microphones for instant communication at a distance
  • Web and literature searches through the tablet’s browser
  • Affordable subject-specific and interactive apps e.g. anatomy apps for medical students
  • Social media apps such as Twitter and Facebook for collaboration
  • Creativity apps e.g. Garageband for music students
  • Note-taking apps e.g. Evernote
  • Touch control for tactile learning
  • An optimised screen size for learning

As a multi-purpose and convenient device, its potential for learning is impossible to ignore. This, however, poses a number of challenges:

What device to support?

The iPad has a huge market share and an extensive educational app ecosystem. The rest of the tablet market is split between five or six vendors, which do not yet have the same access to educational apps. Should universities be encouraging or subsidising the purchase of iPads to the detriment of other tablets? Some institutions, such as the University of Adelaide, are doing just that.

The alternative is to follow the “bring your own device” model. However, there are hidden costs potentially associated with this model, including security costs and the additional IT support required to service a number of different types of tablets all trying to access the university network at one time.

How should the tablet be embedded into course design?

The Horizon report showcases some innovative approaches. The cadavar laboratories at the University of California, Irvine for example, is utilising a suite of apps loaded onto an iPad to supplement traditional approaches to the teaching of medicine.

Human anatomy apps and drug and disease reference materials are instantly available to the student in the laboratory, giving the potential to provide a rich and sustained learning experience that could reduce costs – a virtual dissection using an anatomy app perhaps?

As aforementioned, the tablet has many qualities that facilitate student enquiry, creativity, collaboration and digital literacy, which are highly regarded skills  by employers in the modern workplace.

On the other hand, universities have invested large sums of money in their learning management systems that can be delivered to (currently) cheaper devices such as notebooks through a browser; so where do tablets fit in?

Some vendors, such as Blackboard, are fully focussed on providing a mobile tablet experience, but the question remains, to what extent tutors should be embedding or encouraging tablet use beyond the LMS.

In conclusion

The 2012 Horizon Report is confident that this is the year of the tablet in Higher Education.

As tablets continue to gain traction through some great initiatives and research pilots, universities will need to make some serious policy decisions around tablets and other mobile devices in the near future.

Neil Martin, Learning Technologist

Image Credit: clasesdeperiodismo, Boom de Tablets used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-Sharealike 2.0 Licence.

iPad in Tertiary Education Event

Thursday, October 13th, 2011
Interacting with the iPad

iPad - education game changer?

On Wednesday, USQ welcomed Stephen Atherton and John Webb of the Apple Higher Education Team, who gave an Apple University Consortium Seminar entitled “iPad in Tertiary Education”. The event was organised by the Faculty of Business and Law and was enlightening for all who attended..

Since its launch in 2010, the iPad since  has sold over 25 million units and as a new category of device, it has revolutionised the way many individuals work, create, consume content and play. On release, as noted by Stephen at the start of the seminar, it was seen by some as a potential “game changer for education.” Stephen and John then continued to test this idea further by introducing the audience to some key educational features of the iPad – specifically, the iPad as a mobile device, iTunes U, educational apps, and E-books.

In the first part of his talk, Stephen cited Gartner and the Horizon reports, which predicted that mobile device use within organisations will be ubiquitous by the middle of this decade. He also reflected on how disruptive mobile technologies are forcing universities to react quickly to these changes, in terms of both IT provision (huge numbers of devices connecting to the wireless network) and of course reviewing pedagogy. Stephen pointed the audience towards a number of really useful mobile learning links and it is worth sharing them here:

iTunes U is a distribution channel for public and private educational materials. It is a section of the iTunes store that allows learners to download and subscribe to literally thousands of lectures (both audio and video), PDFs and ebooks. Around 20 Australian universities have iTunes U sites and some of the world’s leading universities are participants, including Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge and the Open University. Stephen showed examples of successful implementations of iTunes U and some great content including short pieces which he called “vignettes” – my favourite being a physicist demonstrating the concept of pressure by lying on a bed of nails!

John was then given the floor and demonstrated a number of iPad apps that are gaining traction for educational purposes. These included:

The final part of the seminar was dedicated to e-books and electronic publishing. Steve talked about the epub standard and how it was being utilised for electronic book creation for a number of mobile devices including the iPad. Epub allows the embedding of text, but also interactive content and video. The ability to annotate content, bookmark key pages and view content across multiple devices has the potential to revolutionise the printing industry and a number of publishers are embracing the format as well as offering their own apps with epub content embedded. One such company to watch is Inkling, with interactive textbooks including quizzes and study tools.

I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar. I think Steve and John demonstrated that the iPad does have the potential to be an educational game changer. There is no doubt that tablets will revolutionise the delivery of educational content in the coming years and currently, the iPad leads the way.

 Neil Martin, Learning Technologist (Co-Pilot)