More College Students Own Tablets This Year Than Last

March 15, 2012

College student with iPadThree times as many college students own tablets this year than last, according to a recent survey. Furthermore, now preferring digital over printed books, students pursuing higher education believe tablets will replace textbooks by 2017.

These results were published a week after Apple's announcement of its new iPad, as well as new digital publishing tools released this year, such as Apple and Inkling's publishing software, The Chronicle of Higher Education noted.

The "Second Annual Survey on Students and Tablets," was conducted by research firm Harris Interactive on behalf of The Pearson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy, learning and great teaching.

One-quarter (25 percent) of the 1,606 college students surveyed said they owned a tablet versus just 7 percent in 2011, according to a press release. Among those tablet owners, the Apple iPad was the most popular (63 percent), then the Kindle Fire (26 percent) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab (15 percent).

In comparison, last year's findings showed college students planned to purchase Apple and Android tablets when the technology became more widespread and cheaper, eCampus News reported. In 2011, about 20 percent of college students claimed no interest in buying a tablet, and 86 percent said the "devices help students study more efficiently."

Colleges and universities that have done smaller, campus-based surveys reported tablet ownership was up slightly this year over last but nothing close to the spike shown on the Pearson survey.

Tablet ownership among college students also is expected to rise. This year, more than a third (36 percent) of college students surveyed said they planned to buy one in the next six months, the press release noted. This group included those who intended to purchase another one (46 percent) and first-time buyers (21 percent).

Nearly all tablet-owning college students (90 percent) said they believe the devices are valuable educational tools. In fact, three-quarters indicated they use them daily for school.

In a reversal from last year's results, more college students today prefer reading digital books than printed ones, 57 percent when reading for fun and 58 percent when reading texts for class, the survey showed. Students like digital textbooks for the related extras accessible via the devices, such as embedded interactive materials, instructor comments and social network access to ask questions or share notes.

With preference for digital textbooks rising, it's no surprise the Pearson survey suggested an impending end to the use of traditional textbooks in higher education. More than half (63 percent) of the surveyed college students said they believe tablets will replace textbooks in the next five years.

The survey findings, eCampus News indicated, could predict a further boom in tablet ownership on campuses next year and beyond.

Compiled by Doresa Banning


"College Students: Tablets Will Replace Textbooks by 2017,", March 14, 2012, Dennis Carter

"New Survey From the Pearson Foundation Finds Dramatic Increase in Tablet Ownership Among College Students and High School Seniors,", March 14, 2012

"Tablet Ownership Triples Among College Students,", March 14, 2012, Nick DeSantis

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