What is Tablet Computing?

In the past four years, advances in tablets have captured the imagination of educators around the world. This category is led by the incredible success of the iPad, which at the time of publication had sold more than 85 million units and is predicted by GigaOM to sell over 377 million units by 2016. Other similar devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Kindle Fire, the Nook, Sony's Tablet S, and the Microsoft Surface have also entered this rapidly growing market. In the process, the tablet (a device that does not require a mouse or keyboard) has come to be viewed as a new technology in its own right, one that blends features of laptops, smartphones, and earlier tablet computers with always-connected Internet and thousands of apps with which to personalize the experience. As these new devices have become more used and understood, it has become even clearer that they are independent and distinct from other mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers, or tablet PCs. With significantly larger screens and richer gesture-based interfaces than their smartphone predecessors — and a growing and ever more competitive market — they are ideal tools for sharing content, videos, images, and presentations because they are easy for anyone to use, visually compelling, and highly portable. Tablets have gained traction in education because users can seamlessly load sets of apps and content of their choosing, making the tablet itself a portable personalized learning environment.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Possibility for inexpensive universal access. Robbie Melton, VC of Tennessee Higher Education System mentions $99 tablets they found at Wal-Mart that out perform others, but one colleague in "the Valley" said they can't tell where they are manufactured. Microsoft and Amazon are moving differently than Apple: http://tinyurl.com/lg3aebf - Mark.fink Mark.fink Oct 20, 2014
  • Have potential to shift focus of custom learning resources (choose your favorite "future of textbooks" euphemism), but need advocates for cross-platform web-based standards still portable without live web connections. Future of college campuses isn't built on a single platform, so need way forward beyond flat PDFs. - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 22, 2014
  • Tablets are maturing into rich creation tools for visual assignments and collaborative learning experiences. The ease with which work can be shared device-to-device, and the tablet's extreme portability removes many of the barriers encountered in computer labs. - billshewbridge billshewbridge Oct 23, 2014
  • Tablet computing and mobile apps (in the category of consumer technologies) are inter-related. There is potential for growth of this technology in online learning in higher education. It is anticipated that there is an evolution in learning management systems that will take advantage of the affordances of tablet computing and mobile apps with environments that are more user-centric (a la personal learning environments). - Jolie Jolie Oct 23, 2014
  • I remain convinced that tablets are already an important and integral tool in learning environments. They are portable, convenient, easy-to-use tools for accessing magnificent learning resources online, and provide ways to connect to other learners and learning facilitators through Google Hangouts and numerous other video-conferencing tools.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • We are currently running a pilot scheme where we give our students a free iPad when they join our institution, which should help get around the platform compatibility issues mentioned above, and enable us to create bespoke learning and teaching materials for a single platform, thereby reducing development time and costs. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014
  • iPad use in higher education is very robust. Yale gave iPads to med school students way back in 2011. http://yalemedicine.yale.edu/spring2014/features/feature/187482

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I think dicksonk hit on something important in the above thread related to the need for vast improvements in e-books/pdf readers, etc. specific to tablet computing. Not only cross-platform web-based standards, but also usability/functionality that supports reading comprehension with productivity tools designed for the way users gather, organize, store, read, note, annotate, and share resources while on the go using tablet computing. - Jolie Jolie Oct 23, 2014 - helga helga Oct 24, 2014 Although there are tools already in place for reading, annotating, and sharing resources while on the go, the need for improved (platform-agnostic) tools is one well worth noting and addressing.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • Tablets are, for the most part, about consumption, not content creation, with the lack of keyboard being their most important flaw. for the foreseeable future, students will still need laptops or desktops as well as their tablets to create their assignments. Unless we change the nature of what we call assignments... - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014
  • In the era of the "phablet" (the phone-tablet), should we even separate tablets from mobile computing? When there are five- and six-inch phones, and also six- and seven-inch tablets, is it worth speaking of the tablet as a separate thing? And on the other end of the spectrum, tablets easily take keyboards, and some "laptops" are "detachable"--so it's a tablet and a keyboard. - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 27, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Much of the potential is already playing out: we're seeing tablets as another way to connect learners to learning materials and learning facilitators--a great response to the goal of engaging in "mobile" learning beyond what we might have imagined even a decade ago.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • add your response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Numerous examples available through even the most cursory online search via Google (sample search term: "tablets in learning")- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • add your response here

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