Mobile Computing | Research

Budgets, Infrastructure Holding Back Greater Mobile Adoption in Schools

About three-quarters of the school systems in the United States have adopted mobile technology or will adopt it within the next two years, according to a new report. However, insufficient budgets and infrastructure shortcomings are preventing most of those districts from implementing 1-to-1 mobile programs.

The report, "National Survey on Mobile Technology for K-12 Education," published by Interactive Educational Systems Design in collaboration with STEM Market Impact, surveyed more than 550 district-level technology leaders and found that:

  • 59.6 percent of respondents said their districts have already implemented mobile technologies in 25 percent or more of their district's schools; and
  • Another 15.5 percent said their districts were likely to do so within the next two years.

However, according to the report's authors, "Very few districts reported that classrooms have 1-to-1 ratio of mobile devices to students. However, a large majority of respondents expressed interest in implementing or expanding a 1-to-1 solution using mobile devices if budget allowed."

The benefits of mobile technologies cited by respondents included personalization of instruction and the ability better to engage students in learning.

What's preventing greater adoption? "Respondents from low-level adopting and non-adopting districts most often identified cost and lack of technology infrastructure to support mobile technology as among the most significant hurdles to getting mobile devices used for student instruction."

And among districts that have adopted or will adopt mobile technologies in 25 percent of their schools, challenges cited by respondents included:

  • The need for teacher professional development and support;
  • Mobile device management issues; and
  • Infrastructure imitations (such as limited WiFi);
  • "Issues related to keeping mobile devices in use, such as breakage, repair, theft, and security," according to the report's authors.

"2013 saw a steady surge in mobile technology adoption, with continued growth very likely in the next two years," according to the report's authors. "While there are few 1-to-1 mobile implementations, the barrier seems to be financial, as most districts have interest in 1-to-1 if they could afford it. District interest in purchasing tablets is also high. Many districts look to mobile technology to make learning more engaging and personalized. However, before this technology can reach its potential, many districts must solve mobile device management issues and will need to provide strong professional development and implementation support for teachers."

Additional details from the survey are available in the full report, which starts at $399. To purchase and download the complete report, visit

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).