Is K-12 driving university tablet adoption?

Fresno State University (FSU) President Joseph Castro, in unveiling the school’s ambitious tablet initiative last week, said K-12 students’ familiarity with the interactive mobile devices was a major factor in FSU’s technology investment.

tablet-online-learningCastro, a long-time proponent of technology integration in higher education, said FSU would purchase 1,000 Apple iPads that would be phased into various courses with the help of 40 faculty members from across the Fresno campus.

A peek inside local K-12 classrooms, Castro said, showed that tomorrow’s college students will show up to campus with a working knowledge of mobile devices as an everyday learning tool.

“As you may have noticed, elementary, junior high, and high school students throughout the Valley are using iPads and other tablets in their schools,” he said in an interview with The Fresno Bee. “We must be prepared to serve these students well when they arrive at Fresno State.”

That makes Castro the latest higher-ed administrator to point to widespread K-12 tablet use as a driving force behind colleges and universities bringing mobile technology into the lecture hall.

Castro said the university would sure up wireless connections so the influx of iPads won’t bog down the school’s network — a problem that has plagued many institutions as students bring several web-connected mobile devices to campus.

“What (a tablet) does is allow us to not confine ourselves to just one way of teaching, it allows students to define it,” FSU military science professor Lorenzo Rios said in an interview after Castro’s announcement.

There remain some questions as to how students use tablets for educational purposes. A December 2013 survey showed that college students were much more likely to use their smart phones to study than a tablet or personal computer.

The study, which was commissioned by McGraw-Hill but was conducted by a Hanover Research, surveyed more than 500 students about their study and technology habits. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents said they use smart phones for studying.

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