iPad beware: Android tablets gain foothold in higher education

Nearly 14 million Android-based tablets will hit the market this year, according to market research.

The Apple iPad’s reign as higher education’s computer tablet of choice might be put to the test as Seton Hall University announced a pilot program that will put Android-based tablets—the iPad’s main rival—in the hands of 350 students and faculty members.

Officials at the South Orange, N.J., campus announced the pilot initiative Aug. 23, just a day after the Lenovo ThinkPad tablets began shipping to business customers worldwide.

The multi-touch 10.1-inch Lenovo tablet features one gigabyte (GB) of memory, 64GB of internal storage, cameras on the front and back, along with Wi-Fi access and a 3G connection.

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The ThinkPad will have access to more than 25,000 applications, according to Lenovo, which described the apps as “malware free.”

Seton Hall didn’t announce how much the initiative would cost the university, but new 16GB Lenovo ThinkPads are $499, while 32GB versions are $599. The top-of-the-line 64GB model is $699, according to Lenovo’s website.

Stephen Landry, Seton Hall’s chief information officer (CIO), said in a statement that bringing the Android tablets to the 9,000-student campus would bolster the school’s Mobile Computing Program, which gives participating students and faculty new computers every two to three years.

“This new technology represents the next evolution in Seton Hall University’s Mobile Computing Program to use technology effectively to support teaching, learning and institutional effectiveness while keeping pace with technology that appeals to our students,” he said.

Educational technology advocates who have pushed for more diversity in computer tablet adoption in higher education lauded Seton Hall’s decision to try Apple’s rival while small and large campuses alike have flocked to the iPad since its release in 2009.

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